Warriors

Examining pros, cons of potential Simmons-Warriors trade

Warriors
Ben Simmons, Draymond Green

It's easy to read the tea leaves and see that Ben Simmons' days as a Philadelphia 76er almost certainly are numbered.

In truth, Simmons was never a great fit alongside Joe Embiid. But to honor The Process, the 76ers tried their best to jam the two together, hoping it would end in an NBA championship.

After Simmons' struggles against the Atlanta Hawks in the 76ers' Eastern Conference semifinals loss, it's clear the time for a split has come. Simmons needs a fresh start and the 76ers need to find a way to reimagine their roster around Embiid.

As is the case whenever any star potentially hits the trade market, the Warriors have been floated as a potential landing spot. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Friday that calls had already been made between the Warriors and 76ers in regards to a Simmons trade.

The Warriors missed the playoffs this past season despite a legendary run from Steph Curry, and enter a critical offseason in which they have to put a title-contending roster around Curry, the returning Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Golden State owns two lottery picks -- No. 7 and No. 14 -- and would like to find another star to put alongside its championship core. Simmons, with his offensive deficiencies, doesn't qualify as a superstar. But he did make the All-NBA third team last year and was runner up for the Defensive Player of the Year award this season.

 

He's a star, but a very flawed one. He's not an ideal fit for the Warriors, but does that mean Golden State can't make it work?

Let's look at the pros and cons of bringing in Simmons, and shipping Andrew Wiggins and probably one first-round pick to the 76ers.

Pro: Wreaking havoc on defense

The Warriors prided themselves on defense during their dynastic run, and Steve Kerr made defense a focus of last year's flawed roster. It worked, as the Warriors had the fifth-best defensive rating during the regular season.

Green was the catalyst for the Warriors' stout defense, as his intelligence, communication and ferocity served as a wrecking ball to opposing offenses. Now, adding a versatile 6-foot-10 defender who can guard one through five, routinely guards the opponent's top scorer and uses his length and quickness to disrupt passing lanes, protect the rim and get out in transition would give the Warriors two of best defenders in the NBA and the foundation for an elite defense.

Simmons is one of the most versatile defenders in the NBA and would make the Warriors' defense incredibly difficult to break down alongside Green.

Con: But ... what about the spacing?

One of the Warriors' biggest issues this past season was the lack of floor-spacers around Curry.

The healthy return of Thompson, whenever that is, should alleviate some of that. But swapping in Simmons for Wiggins will absolutely harm Golden State's desire to give Curry more space to operate. Simmons' shooting reluctance has been well-documented, and having a player who defenses can sag off and help off to hound Curry isn't exactly what the Warriors are looking to add this offseason.

Simmons' addition, while beneficial on defense and in transition, likely would be a detriment to the Warriors in the half-court.

Unless ...

Pro: Steph gets to hunt off ball

Here's the counter to the lack of spacing Simmons' provides: Having a 6-foot-10 point guard who can bring the ball up and initiate the offense will allow Curry, the best off-ball player in the NBA, to hunt and murder opposing defenses in a way he was not able to this past season when the ball was in his hands a majority of the time.

Simmons' basketball IQ and athleticism also would be better utilized in Kerr's motion offense. Where the 76ers would run a lot of useless motion and then dump the ball to Embiid with 12 seconds left on the shot clock and ask him to bail them out while Simmons stood on the perimeter, the Warriors' offense would utilize Simmons' cutting ability and athleticism to punish defenses that sag off and put more focus on Curry and Thompson.

Simmons' transition ability also adds another wrinkle as his penchant for attacking downhill on the break can get Curry and Thompson even more open looks.

Con: The Draymond fit

Simmons and Green would be potent defensive tandem. There is no doubt.

However, there would be issues on the offensive end as neither is a viable outside shooter that scares defenses from outside. This might not be a problem initially, but it would be an issue in the playoffs when games slow down and you have to execute in the half-court.

 

This would force the Warriors to play what is essentially three-and-a-half on five on the offensive end, and would clog things up for Curry.

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Pro: Right place for a fresh start

It's clear Simmons needs a change of scenery and we just saw how heading to Golden State allowed another former No. 1 pick in Wiggins to resurrect his career.

Simmons still is only 24 years old and would be the fourth star on a team with dynastic credentials. Kerr and the Warriors' staff could have the perfect culture to rehabilitate his confidence and scheme and superstar in Curry to mitigate his weaknesses.

Con: No shortage of pressure

We just saw Simmons wilt in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He shrunk during the fourth quarter in each of the last four games of the series as the 76ers tried to stave off an upset.

He is an extremely talented player with a mental block. The free throws, the 3-point shooting, the lack of aggression in key moments (passing up a dunk). It might be best for Simmons to go somewhere he can be the man, run the show and there aren't title expectations right away.

The Warriors need someone who is battle-tested -- which Simmons is -- but who won't shy away from the big moment and is not afraid to fail. If Simmons does end up in Golden State, there will be championship expectations from the moment the plane sets down. He'll be seen as a key piece in the rebirth of a dynasty.

That's a lot for someone who was afraid to get fouled in the Eastern Conference semifinals to handle.

On the other hand, playing alongside Curry and Green can have an incredible impact on one's confidence. Just ask Wiggins.

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