The Sixers' season has not exactly gone as planned.
Touted as likely title contenders back in October, the Sixers have been stuck at No. 6 in the Eastern Conference for some time, and with 32 games left in the regular season, it's fair to call this a disappointing campaign.
Have there been injuries? Yep. Does the team's roster construction handicap its best players? Indeed. Is the Eastern Conference surprisingly deep this year? You bet.
But there's plenty of blame to go around, and former NBA champion Brian Scalabrine said Monday he thinks the team is struggling in part because of the effort put forth by the Sixers' two best players.
On a new episode of Scalabrine's "Scal and Pals" podcast, the former Boston Celtic and current analyst with Radio.com and NBC Sports Boston, took Simmons and Embiid to task for their performance in Saturday's drubbing against the Cs, and their performance this year in general. He did not hold back:
My problem is, because my experience is having to do everything to the greatest intent, because if I didn't I wouldn't have made it, right? I don't know what it's like to go play a game and not give a f---. I don't. I just don't. I don't understand.
But Ben Simmons? He doesn't care. Sometimes he makes moves, he goes to the basket, he's laying it up, turning a corner, dunking off the wrong hand, going off the wrong foot, doing all these things. But sometimes, he's out there not impacting winning whatsoever. Embiid, it's the same thing, when they pick and choose when they wanna be great. But I don't know why they pick and choose certain times, and other times they don't. I don't get it.
You lose to Atlanta, then why not just bring it — it's a nationally televised game, and you guys just lay an egg, and it doesn't look like you care at all. So, I'm with you — I'll never quit on the Sixers. But I don't understand the internal drive and motivation from both those guys.
That's definitely a take!
Scalabrine isn't exactly LeBron James, but he's a former NBA mainstay who enjoyed a 12-year career. Say what you want about his game, but the guy certainly understands what it takes to play in the league.
And while the Celtics game itself might be an odd focus, with Embiid recently returning from injury and Simmons having another in a recent string of excellent games, there have been recurring worries about the stars' effort and buy-in over the years, both internal and external. Embiid responded earlier to call-outs from Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal over his effort. Simmons has been dinged for refusing to expand his game.
They're both headed to the NBA All-Star Game later this month, but Scalabrine might theoretically be on to something: are Simmons and Embiid reaching their full potentials? Or are they existing off their given talents? Because this Sixers team should be better than it currently is, and yet here we are.
The rest of this season will give both young stars a chance to re-write the narrative.
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