When a team loses four straight games, people worry. When that team is 24-14 and falling short of regular season expectations, people panic.
Fire the coach. Split up the two young All-Stars. Trade one of the new pieces that just arrived this offseason. Blow it all up!
This could be the reason we’re seeing potential trades involving Ben Simmons floating around. There’s been no indication that the Sixers are planning to move Simmons, but Marcus Thompson, a respected columnist from the Bay Area, recently wrote about a possible trade scenario which would see Simmons end up a Warrior.
One of the interesting possibilities I’ve heard being kicked around is D’Angelo Russell for Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. The 76ers could use a point guard who can score and run the show — and shoot. Some believe the pairing of Simmons and big man Joel Embiid isn’t viable in their pursuit of a championship. Simmons, as one source told me, is probably the best player the Warriors could possibly get for Russell, just considering the needs of the Warriors and their potential trade partners.
Nope. Just no.
Why on earth would the Sixers do this?
If you watched the Sixers play the Nets in the first round of the playoffs last season, you saw how that matchup went. Simmons proved to be in a completely different class than Russell. During that series, Russell shot just 32.4 percent from three and 35.9 percent overall — and what you saw matched the numbers. Russell looked like he was moving in slow motion compared to Simmons.
Even if the value were better, it doesn’t make much sense for the Sixers. Simmons is a 23-year-old All-Star who looks well on his way to earning All-Defensive Team honors.
Perhaps you look at his numbers and see his scoring is down and feel disappointed by his overall play. But Simmons hasn’t regressed. Quite the opposite.
Over his last 16 games, he’s averaging 17.1 points, 8.7 assists and 8.7 assists. He’s shooting 58.4 percent from the field and 61.3 percent from the line (which for Simmons’ standards is very good).
The fact that he is unwilling to shoot is puzzling and frustrating. The shot has been slow to develop, but it is developing. His form is significantly better than it was last season and he’s taken two legitimate threes and looked good doing it. At some point, he’ll have to get comfortable doing it consistently for this team to reach its ultimate goal.
But to give up on him now seems dangerous. Simmons and Joel Embiid are not an obvious fit. A roster that maximizes both their potentials is one surrounded by shooters. Then there’s also the issue of pace. These are fair arguments, but you have to look at the bigger picture.
One of the issues in dealing Simmons is Embiid’s long-term health. Nobody has a crystal ball, and maybe Embiid plays until he’s 40, but the history of big men with injury issues isn’t great. If you were to trade Simmons for a player like Russell, you’d leave yourself with little insurance.
No player is untradeable, but for GM Elton Brand to deal Simmons, it would likely take a mind-blowing offer. A deal for Russell is not that.
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