Ben Simmons is the biggest wildcard in the NBA season restart and the Philadelphia 76ers moving him to the four is probably the most significant change we’ve seen strategically for any team thus far.
And if there was a squad in the East with the top end talent to rival Milwaukee, it’s gotta be Philly. (Not to sleep on the likes of the Celtics, Heat, or the defending champion Raptors.) As to me, Simmons has always been the player I’d consider my most important if I was the Sixers, and that includes Joel Embiid.
Recent scrimmages have given us a glimpse as to why. Simmons is an absolute terror in the open floor with the ability to elevate teammates via his passing and the versatility defensively to guard nearly anyone in the league.
Now of course scrimmages aren’t going to reveal whether he’s solved his glaring weakness, the inability to knock down or even attempt threes. And I won’t overreact to a few makes against exhibition D, though to Simmons’ credit, he did agree to work with a sports psychologist on said shot, perhaps a recognition that he can never be a truly great player if he’s a self-check on the perimeter.
However, perhaps no team and individual can benefit more from a fresh start on this season than Simmons and Philadelphia. And personally, I love the move to scrap the odd roster building that was pairing Al Horford and Embiid and inserting Shake Milton in the starting lineup to create more space and put Simmons in a position to succeed.
Because for a guy averaging 17, 8, and 8, I still think the potential is there for so much more. And getting the best out of Ben Simmons is the process I think the Philadelphia 76ers should be following, no matter what other moves they have to make.