If you’re tired of hearing the LeBron James-to-the-Sixers rumors, well, maybe move out of town.
The latest report connecting the King to the Sixers adds only more fuel to the fire. James is looking to “play off the ball,” according to Chris Broussard of FS1 on Tuesday.
“What I was told is that LeBron has [played on the ball] because he’s never really had a teammate who was a playmaker for other guys,” Broussard said. “Ben Simmons is that [playmaker].”
James has already helped — OK, almost single-handedly gotten — the Cavs to the Eastern Conference Finals. So why come to Philly? Here are four reasons the marriage makes sense.
James has been in the NBA for 15 seasons. For each of those seasons, he’s led his team in assists. He played with point guards like Eric Snow (!) and Mario Chalmers. He also had stints with Mo Williams and Kyrie Ivring, who were more scorers than facilitators. It’s no wonder he’s had to be his team’s primary — and in most cases sole — facilitator.
In his rookie season, Simmons averaged 8.2 assists, far more than any of James’ previous running mates. If James is truly looking for a “playmaker” so he can play off the ball, Simmons fits the bill.
While all of Philly agonizes over Simmons not having a jumper, James is a shining example of a player’s shot improving. During the first eight seasons of his career, James shot 33 percent from three and 48 percent from the field. Over the second half of his remarkable career, James has improved his percentage from three to 36 percent and his overall percentage to an unreal 54 percent. That number is bonkers for a perimeter player.
At this stage of his career, James is a capable jump shooter. With less pressure to create space for himself and others, James may continue to improve.
King and the Fresh Prince a fit?
A concern that has — for some reason — been raised is the fit of James and Simmons. Monday night’s Game 4 win over the Celtics was a prime example of how the dynamic could work. In case you missed it, T.J. McConnell channeled his inner John Stockton last night. Lost in McConnell’s heroics is that Simmons had his best game of the series.
The Sixers’ win and the effectiveness of both ball handlers shows that a King-Fresh Prince relationship could not only work, but take pressure off both players. I can’t imagine you’ll hear Brett Brown complaining about having too many capable passers on the floor.
Playing with Big Z and The Process
Last but certainly not least, there’s Joel Embiid. Fun fact: James has averaged over 30 points in a season twice in his career. In each of those seasons, he had a healthy and productive Zydrunas Ilgauskas as his second-leading scorer.
It’s not just that a good, scoring big man helped James score at his best clip. When you look at Ilgauskas’ and Embiid’s offensive skillsets, they’re pretty similar. They’re not just lane-clogging bigs. Both have finesse to their game and are able to score outside of the post.
It certainly won’t hurt to have a rim protector of Embiid’s ilk while James chases around younger wings.