76ers: Is Brett Brown Moving Ben Simmons Away From Point Guard?
Ever since he's joined the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons has been criticized for his role on the team. Considering his height, size, and unwillingness to take mid-to-long range jump shots, many have expressed frustration with the idea that Brett Brown continues to utilize Simmons as a point guard in the NBA.
While Simmons is no stiff at the point guard position, his glaring weakness can limit the Sixers, and it has done so in the past. Now, it seems Brown and the Sixers are looking to tweak the starting lineup before the NBA's restart -- and the significant change will involve moving Simmons to power forward.
"The last few days I played [Ben Simmons] exclusively as a four-man," Brown told the media on Monday afternoon following the Sixers' third-straight practice. "To always have Ben have to have the ball and dribble it up against five guys after made baskets especially -- to do that I think it dilutes some of his potent weapons, speed. You realize the value he has in many other areas. Watching Joel [Embiid] and [Ben Simmons] play off each other has been a really good look -- I think they've been fantastic together."
With Simmons potentially out of the point guard position moving forward, who is the replacement? "[Shake Milton has] been the starting point guard," Sixers center Joel Embiid revealed on Monday. "And I think he has a huge opportunity to help us accomplish what we believe we can.
"He's been doing an amazing job, just running the team and we're going to need him to knock down open shots, which he did before the league basically got shut down. He was on a roll, so we're going to need him to keep it going. He's been great."
Before the NBA went on a hiatus, Milton has impressed as Simmons' replacement in the starting lineup. During the final ten games of the season before the NBA's suspension, Milton has spent nearly 30 minutes on the court, averaging 16.5 points-per-game while shooting an excellent 59.2-percent from deep.
While Milton might not be as complete of a player Simmons is, he offers value in the shooting department, which Simmons struggled to do. Meanwhile, Simmons will still be just as, if not, more productive in his role at forward. Brett Brown hasn't confirmed the new starting lineup for the Sixers as a permanent change just yet -- but if the last few days of practice are any indication -- it looks like Simmons will see a shift in position when the Sixers' season starts back up again next month.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_