Ben Simmons has made a strong All-Star push over his last three games (all Sixers wins) heading to London. I don't think he'll make it, even though he should make it as long as he continues playing the way he has lately.
In wins over the Suns, Spurs and Pistons, he averaged 22.0 points (57.1 percent field goals, 18 for 27 free throws), 6.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.0 blocks.
The problem is there are only six available spots for guards (two starting guard spots, two reserve guard spots, and two wild-card spots). Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal and John Wall are all perceived locks. That leaves one spot for Simmons and all the frontcourt players not named LeBron, Giannis and JoJo, who will be the likely starters.
The reserves call is strictly on the coaches and it's hard to picture them leaving Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Love and Andre Drummond off the team as the backup bigs. The result? One wild-card spot for Simmons, Al Horford, Khris Middleton or someone else.
It's one of the topics we tackle this week on Holding Court. We hit you with a New Year/New Sixers edition of the podcast (because it's definitely not New Year/New Us). Amy Fadool and I discuss a myriad of topics including why Simmons' All-Star chances will probably require an abacus, the only month Amy recognizes from a season ago, and how LaVar Ball is (still) polarizing (and relevant?) even though he's not even in the country.
1:40 — We talk January, looking back at 2017 and the present version a year later through Brett Brown's eyes.
2:55 — What the Sixers are focusing on right now (it's all about defense but a bit more specific than you might think).
3:48 — On Joel Embiid and when he might attempt to play the first back-to-back of his NBA career.
4:41 — That schedule, though ... four straight games against teams in playoff position.
6:24 — Amy explains that the Pistons may have been sluggish in the Sixers' blowout win because of their whereabouts the night before.
7:17 — Simmons is playing the best basketball of his NBA career and the Sixers are winning. Not a coincidence.
9:00 — All-Star voting and why Simmons should be in but probably won't.
14:57 — You don't want to hear about Paul Millsap ... but a Millsap-ian player could be the difference between Ben making it or not.
15:33 — There will be no better platform to get the All-Star votes up than Thursday's London game.
16:00 — Talk to LaVar Ball and you might get your NBA credentials snatched.
17:30 — Mandatory Golden State Warriors mention.
18:30 — Amy and Marshall disagree on how to handle LaVar.
20:08 — Blake Griffin is dating a Kardashian?