Despite not having their main man, Joel Embiid, on the floor, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers managed to walk away with a 108-91 victory against the Western Conference No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center Philadelphia. Simmons established another outstanding performance on both ends of the floor, finishing the game with 28 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals while shooting 80.0 percent from the field. With his ability to lead the Sixers in Embiid’s absence, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report believes that the former No. 1 overall pick is starting to re-establish his position as a “bonafide franchise cornerstone” in Philadelphia.
Before Embiid suffered an injury, Simmons was viewed as the odd man out in the City of Brotherly Love. With his inability to efficiently knock down shots from beyond the arc, most people don’t see Simmons as a good fit alongside Embiid. However, with their recent run without Embiid, Bailey said that the Sixers should at least try to think what their future will be if they start to build their roster around Simmons instead of the All-Star big man.
“With all the focus on the lack of three-point attempts, some seem to have forgotten that Simmons does everything else. So, it makes sense to surround him with players who can provide the one skill he doesn’t. It’s not a perfect comparison, because Giannis Antetokounmpo is willing to at least try to score from the outside, but the blueprint the Milwaukee Bucks have laid out is a tantalizing option for Simmons. Even without Embiid clogging up the middle of the floor, the Sixers don’t have the ideal personnel to maximize Simmons. But they’re a little closer.”
Though he doesn’t have better statistics than Embiid right now, there are plenty of reasons why the Sixers should consider making Simmons the centerpiece of the title-contending team that they are trying to build. From the time he entered the NBA in 2016, Simmons has shown the potential to become a franchise player and was frequently compared to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.
Excluding his floor-spacing ability, Simmons is capable of excelling in every aspect of the game and compared to Embiid, he’s more flexible. As Bailey noted, since Embiid was drafted in 2014, he has only appeared in just 41.4 percent of the Sixers’ regular-season games. Meanwhile, since missing his rookie year due to injury, Simmons has shown up in 97.2 percent of Philadelphia’s regular-season games.
If they fail to build better chemistry, the time may come that the Sixers choose between Simmons and Embiid. If Simmons continues to shine in Embiid’s absence, Bailey thinks that it won’t hurt for the Sixers to at least explore the trade market for the All-Star big man.