As the NBA begins working on putting the final touches on the 2021 NBA All-Star game, the final rosters are expected to be completed early on this week. So far, we know Sixers center Joel Embiid is in the game, and so is his head coach, Doc Rivers.
Everybody else, though, is questionable. Not counting the obvious All-Star Embiid, the Sixers have two players deserving of representing the Eastern Conference with Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris.
Simmons, who has made the All-Star game in the last two seasons, is having another tremendous season on the defensive side of the ball. Although he was off to a slow start offensively, he's really picked it up as the season went on and looks like he belongs in the big game for the third season in a row.
Meanwhile, Harris has never cracked an All-Star roster, and he was hopeful that this would be the year he does it. After all, he's having a career season as he's averaged 20 points-per-game while shooting 51-percent from the field and 42 percent from deep.
Unfortunately, it looks like those two are on the outside looking in. Last week, as the NBA announced the starting lineup, along with the fan, media, and player votes, the results didn't fall in favor of Simmons and Harris.
Considering the Sixers currently hold the best record in the entire Eastern Conference, it would be a bit shocking to see them have just one player represent them in the All-Star game. A lack of players representing them in the game doesn't hurt them, but Doc Rivers believes that the situation would be disappointing.
"It would be [disheartening if they didn't make it]," Rivers admitted on Sunday night. "I think there is a lot of guys that deserve to make the All-Star team. I think record has to be a factor. I think anybody can get numbers on a bad team -- somebody's gotta score. I think it's hard to play well on a good team. It's much harder, and I don't think enough people give that love."
Rivers' thought process here isn't off-base. While stats and popularity certainly play a role in All-Star voting, it should be taken into account just how valuable players are to their teams. Oftentimes, good players on bad teams might look like superstars because they're padding stats during losses. Meanwhile, good players on succeeding teams tend to produce less for the greater good of the team.
"We ask players on championship teams to sacrifice shots, pass the ball, play defense, just do so many things that contribute to winning, and that affects your numbers," Rivers continued. "Your numbers aren't going to be as good, but your team wins. Yet, fans, media, every time I hear it, they're talking about these guys on these sub .500 teams, and it just blows me away. Like, Tobias can get the same numbers anywhere and even bigger numbers if he was on a bad team, but what he is doing is winning basketball. I think him and Ben should get more credit for it."
Simmons and Harris aren't definitely out of the running just yet, but it seems the voting is trending in a direction towards leaving them out this season. While the situation is unfortunate for the first-seeded Sixers, leaving them off the rosters could light a fire under the two veterans for the second half of the 2020-2021 season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_