Philadelphia 76ers: Where Does Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons Rank Going Into Orlando?
The Philadelphia 76ers took a flight to Orlando, Florida, on Thursday night. And by the first of August, the 2019-2020 season will resume for the Sixers. With eight games left in the year, along with an entire playoff bracket ready to be played, the Sixers have a lot riding on its two All-Stars for this upcoming postseason.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are easily the two most important players on the Sixers at the moment. It's clear the team will go as far as they take them. Knowing they are some of the best players in the NBA, where do Simmons and Embiid rank in comparison to other NBA stars heading into the Orlando bubble?
Sports Illustrated's own Michael Shapiro recently ranked the Top 25 NBA Players heading into the bubble this summer, and Simmons shows up first for the Sixers.
15. Ben Simmons
"Philadelphia's point guard is effectively the NBA's Bizzarro Jerry when compared to Donovan Mitchell. While Mitchell is a model of consistency with a visible ceiling, Simmons sports a vast disparity in potential performance. The 2016 No. 1 pick can truly battle Giannis Antetokounmpo or Jayson Tatum on his best night, wrecking opponents as a dominant two-way force."
"He's a transition nightmare and a surprisingly impactful roll man. Yet Simmons' brilliance is too often marred by glaring flaws. His inability to shoot with any range has been noted ad nauseam, and his pick-and-roll numbers are downright uninspiring. Simmons' talent keeps the Sixers in the Finals conversation. But it's hard to consider them legitimate contenders without more proven consistency."
10. Joel Embiid
"Joel Embiid is the best true center in basketball when playing at the peak of his powers. The three-time All-Star is a monstrous offensive force with plenty of touch, able to score against any frontcourt in basketball. Embiid is often the creator of his offense in the halfcourt. He's nimble off the bounce, and strong in traffic. He may not receive the unicorn label like Porzingis or Karl-Anthony Towns, though he certainly qualifies."
"Embiid's weak-side defense is stronger by the season, and his sheer presence deters drivers at the rim. There's too much talent to break up the Embiid-Simmons duo, especially considering this strange season. But if push came to shove, dealing Embiid remains the ultimate last resort."
Who Could be an Honorable Mention?
It comes as no surprise Simmons and Embiid are recognized as two top 25 players in the NBA as it's clear they run the show for the Sixers. However, the team's veteran power forward could be a legitimate honorable mention in this case.
Tobias Harris might not have satisfied Sixers fans this season considering how much he got paid over the summer -- but that doesn't mean the veteran forward has been a bust for the team. When the NBA's season went on suspension, Harris averaged the second-most amount of points-per-game for the Sixers behind Embiid.
Also, his availability has been key on a rather injured roster as he had the most starts (65) on the team. With Simmons and Embiid being the two faces of the Sixers, Harris will likely remain in the shadows. But if defenses have all of their attention on the two All-Stars, Harris could very well become an X-Factor for the Sixers this summer.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_