Former NBA Coach Uses Jordan, LeBron to Defend Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons

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Nowadays, when the Philadelphia 76ers are discussed, many tend to cling onto the same topics. Whether it be Ben Simmons' jumper, Brett Brown's struggles as the head coach, or Joel Embiid's health, 76ers fans and critics tend to sound like a broken record often.

Throughout the 2019-2020 season, however, the issues didn't surround just one person. Instead, many criticized the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Even though both of them were All-Stars over the last two seasons, and both helped the 76ers land in the second round of the playoffs -- there's still tons of doubt surrounding the young stars.

By now, many would've hoped the duo of Simmons and Embiid would translate to a championship-winning team. As we know, though, the 76ers have struggled to make it past the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. While Simmons and Embiid both had their hand in the team's postseason struggles over the last two years, is it really grounds for a breakup?

Former NBA Coach and ESPN Analyst P.J. Carlesimo recently touched on the topic. When asked about whether the Simmons-Embiid criticisms are fair or not on NBC Sports Philly's 'Sixers Talk' podcast, Carlesimo not only believes the expectations for Embiid and Simmons are unfair right now -- but he thinks they are unfair in a "dramatic way."

"I think there's two problems," Carlesimo said. "The first problem with the Sixers is the youth. There's no question about that. As good as those two guys are, as much as they've accomplished, they're very young in their careers."

The former NBA coach used Michael Jordan and LeBron James as an example. Despite the fact that Jordan and LeBron were two elite players early on in their careers, Jordan and the Bulls didn't win the Finals until year seven. Meanwhile, LeBron's first championship came in year nine. For perspective, Embiid is just 26-years-old and wrapping up his fourth season in the NBA. As for Simmons, he's 23 and finishing out year three.

"It's a little arrogant to think anybody else is going to do it any quicker than those guys," Carlesimo stated. "Michael and LeBron came in and were really good players right from the jump their rookie years, but it took them a long time to learn how to win a championship."

While youth plays a significant part in Embiid and Simmons' failure to win a championship so far, there's also another highlighted issue -- that's health. "Joel just hasn't been healthy," he said. "Talk about a guy who's been snakebit. I mean, he's played so few games out of what he could have played in his career. And then on top of that, now, Ben gets a really tough injury. I think long term he's going to be OK. Joel, you gotta wonder about a little bit. The amount of injuries he's had is a little bit concerning."

All in all, Carlesimo believes the 76ers are still on the right path. While the duo of Simmons and Embiid surely needs work, that should all come with the experience they gain in the future. Despite what many suggest, there's no reason for the 76ers to pick and choose between the two. Both are All-Stars and can coexist if they want to make it work. As the 2019-2020 season went on, Simmons and Embiid proved they are willing to make it work. Therefore, the Sixers should continue to trust the process.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_