Despite having two of the NBA’s top young players in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers haven’t lived up to many experts’ expectations, posting a 39-26 record that saw them tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference. With advanced statistics showing how the Sixers have seemingly underperformed when Embiid and Simmons share the court, a recent report suggested yet another offseason move to break up the All-Star duo — one that would send Simmons to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for a trade package centered on C.J. McCollum.
According to Bleacher Report‘s recently published list of trades that could give the NBA’s top championship contenders a better chance of winning the Finals, the Sixers only have a plus-1.0 point differential per 100 possessions when Simmons and Embiid are both on the floor — a much slimmer margin than the differentials when only one of the two is playing and the other is on the bench.
“Simmons’ and Embiid’s both needing the ball might be contributing to the clash. And Simmons’ refusing to shoot has made him close to a non-factor when he’s off the ball. That can lead to crowding on Embiid’s post touches.”
Given Simmons’ long-running weakness as a poor outside shooter, the publication suggested sending him to the Trail Blazers, with the Sixers receiving McCollum, reserve wingman Anfernee Simons, and a 2021 first-round pick in return. While McCollum has mainly been used as a shooting guard in Portland, Bleacher Report suggested he can replace Simmons at point guard in Philadelphia, with his shooting ability providing more spacing for Embiid and possibly helping the big man reach his full potential faster.
.@ColinCowherd: This is why I would break up Joel Embiid & Ben Simmons. It's a chemistry issue.@Chris_Broussard: Embiid wants to be the man. Simmons wants to be the man. They're jealous of one another... They want to be more celebrity than superstar basketball players pic.twitter.com/4yat0SCs7Z— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) February 6, 2020
Although McCollum has yet to play in an All-Star Game in his seven-year NBA career, he has been one of the team’s top scorers since his breakout season in 2015-16, per Basketball-Reference. In 62 games this season, the 28-year-old has averaged 22.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, while sinking 45.3 percent of his shots from the field and 38 percent of his three-point attempts.
Bleacher Report pointed out that the 6-foot-10-inch Simmons might have to switch to the power forward spot if he gets traded to Portland, as Damian Lillard has long established himself as the Blazers’ starting point guard. This could allow the former No. 1 overall draft pick to thrive as a “taller, more athletic version” of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, with Lillard serving as Portland’s counterpart to the Warriors’ Stephen Curry.
The new trade idea is the latest of its kind to involve moving either Embiid or Simmons to another team, in hopes of giving the Sixers a better chance to contend for an NBA championship. Earlier this month, The Inquisitr reported on a trade suggestion that would allow the Brooklyn Nets to acquire Embiid in exchange for guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, center Jarrett Allen, and multiple future draft picks.