Ben Simmons notched another accolade on Wednesday, being named to an All-NBA Team for the first time in his career. After being selected to the All-Defensive First Team last week, Simmons was announced as a member of the All-NBA Third Team.
Joel Embiid, an All-NBA Second Team selection the last two years, did not make the cut. Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert are the All-NBA centers. The 26-year-old Embiid missed 22 of the Sixers’ 73 regular-season games in this pandemic-shortened season, averaging 23.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
The Sixers’ first-round playoff series against the Celtics was a good illustration of Simmons’ value. He was sidelined for Boston’s sweep of the Sixers after undergoing surgery to remove a loose body in his left knee. In addition to the obvious fact that the Sixers missed one of the league’s top defenders — Simmons led the NBA in steals per game, was third in deflections and guarded All-Stars like Jayson Tatum well — his absence meant the Sixers lacked a unique offensive option and were heavily reliant on Embiid post-ups.
Brett Brown, who was fired as the Sixers’ head coach after that sweep, had moved Simmons to a point forward role and was looking to use him more in half-court offense as a screener and roller. Regardless of his position, Simmons has proven to be among the NBA’s best at setting up teammates for three-pointers. Though Simmons’ shot still lingers as a major question — he made his first two NBA threes this year — he assisted on 236 threes.