76ers

Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star?

uspresswire-sixers-simmons-embiid.jpg
USA Today Images

Will Ben Simmons be an All-Star?

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?

2019-20 NBA power rankings: Taking stock heading into the second half of the regular season

2019-20 NBA power rankings: Taking stock heading into the second half of the regular season

With the trade deadline a little over two weeks away, every team in the NBA has played at least 41 games.

Let’s take stock as the second half of the regular season begins: 

The top 10

It took the second triple-double of Markelle Fultz’s career Wednesday to snap the Lakers’ nine-game winning streak. 

Jimmy Butler has gotten to the free throw line in every game he’s played besides one this season and is third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game (9.3).

Mike Conley returned from a hamstring injury Saturday for Utah, and the Jazz have won 16 of 18.

The Rockets have lost three straight and the Mavs have won four straight, but Dallas has a difficult upcoming schedule with the Clippers and Jazz on tap this week. 

Ben Simmons has been stellar in just about every way besides fourth-quarter scoring for the Sixers in Joel Embiid’s absence and is averaging 21.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists over his last four games. 

Though Marcus Smart set a franchise record with 11 threes and scored a career-high 37 points in Saturday’s defeat to the Suns, Boston has lost three in a row. 

1. Milwaukee Bucks (38-6) 
2. Los Angeles Lakers (34-8)
3. Los Angeles Clippers (30-13)
4. Denver Nuggets (29-13) 
5. Miami Heat (29-13) 
6. Utah Jazz (29-13) 
7. Dallas Mavericks (27-15) 
8. Houston Rockets (26-15)
9. Sixers (28-16) 
10. Boston Celtics (27-14)

The middle 10

The Raptors shot over 50 percent from the floor in every game this week and could easily be higher in our rankings — it’s tightly bunched in the six through 12 range. 

Memphis has seven straight wins. Ja Morant is mesmerizing, and both he and Jaren Jackson Jr. are shooting over 40 percent on threes. 

Kyrie Irving talked Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center about the Nets requiring “one or two more pieces,” then reached out to teammates to clarify his comments.

Zion Williamson is expected to debut Wednesday vs. the Spurs, exciting news if you enjoy basketball. 

After their trade with the Kings, Portland got 34 points from Damian Lillard and a career-high 30 from flu-stricken Gary Trent Jr., and they still lost by 13 to Oklahoma City.

11. Toronto Raptors (28-14)
12. Indiana Pacers (28-15) 
13. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-19) 
14. Memphis Grizzlies (20-22)
15. Brooklyn Nets (18-23) 
16. San Antonio Spurs (18-23) 
17. Orlando Magic (20-23)
18. Phoenix Suns (18-24) 
19. New Orleans Pelicans (16-27) 
20. Portland Trail Blazers (18-26)

The bottom 10 

The Bulls’ last win over a team currently in playoff position was on Dec. 14, but Zach LaVine is putting up big numbers, including 42 points Saturday vs. Cleveland, and trying to push for a home All-Star appearance

Sekou Doumbouya, the league’s youngest player, scored 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting Wednesday night at TD Garden. 

It appears that a clear bottom four has separated from the pack. Stephen Curry is targeting a March 1 return, according to The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson. 

21. Chicago Bulls (16-28)
22. Sacramento Kings (15-27) 
23. Detroit Pistons (16-27)
24. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-27) 
25. Charlotte Hornets (15-29)
26. Washington Wizards (13-28)
27. Cleveland Cavaliers (12-31)
28. New York Knicks (11-32)
29. Golden State Warriors (10-34)
30. Atlanta Hawks (10-33) 



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

sixers-talk-ben-simmons-dunk-knicks.jpg
NBCSP/USA Today Images

Sixers Talk podcast: Is Ben Simmons an All-Star? A reunion with Robert Covington?

On the latest Sixers Talk podcast presented by Wilmington University, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss Ben Simmons' recent play since Joel Embiid went out with an injury, how alarming the Al Horford situation is becoming, and a possible reunion with Robert Covington.

• No, Simmons hasn't scored late in games, but he's been attacking the rim and causing opponents to make plenty of business decisions.

• How worried should we be about Horford's up-and-down season?

• Would a RoCo reunion make sense? What would you give up?

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers