Ben Simmons is taking a beating out there.
The Philadelphia 76ers star has been under scrutiny since his team’s elimination from the NBA Playoffs on Sunday night. Probably because in Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, a series the Sixers were heavy favorited to win, all of Simmons’ flaws as a player were amplified.
He put up an abysmal five points on 2-for-4 shooting in an elimination game, had the worst free throw percentage in NBA postseason history and became subject of ruthless NBA Twitter memes after passing up on a dunk to pad his assist count (13). In the process, it’s become glaringly obvious that the 24-year-old is not a fit in Philly.
Essentially, his trade value is low as ever right now. Yet, it seems inevitable he’ll be moved. Especially after coach Doc Rivers said publicly that he didn’t know if Simmons was capable of being a championship-caliber point guard. Teammate Joel Embiid piling on wasn’t great, either.
Should a team like the Boston Celtics pounce? Let’s start by saying no.
There’s a good argument that Simmons is the Sixers’ scapegoat for their failed process. He’s a borderline Defensive Player of the Year who is elite in switching to defend positions 1 through 5.
For a Celtics team that (traditionally) prides itself on defense, this part is wonderful. The problem arises on the other side of the ball.
Over the course of his five seasons played in the NBA (sitting out the first with injury), his average field goal attempts (10.1 per game) have decreased every year. At the line, his average free throw attempts (4.9) and free throws made (3.0) have gone down since the second year he actually played.
This is a super max player!
He can’t buy buckets. Even at the free throw line, which frankly is unacceptable for an NBA player. It’s not fair to say this liberally, but that just suggests he doesn’t care about improving his game based on how stagnant his offensive development has been.
It shouldn’t be this hard to develop a mediocre jump shot. It isn’t, if you’re in the gym and not running around Hollywood with supermodels like Kendall Jenner. But we’re talking about a guy who literally came into the league shooting with the wrong hand, and probably should be playing the 4. Of note, Jenner now is now with Phoenix Sun’s star Devin Booker.
This isn’t to say Simmons is unsalvageable or damaged goods. Philadelphia looks like a pretty toxic place to struggle, honestly. Just ask Jahlil Okafor, Markele Fultz or Al Horford.
But he absolutely needs a change of scenery. It probably shouldn’t be Boston, though.
The Celtics would have to move either Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum for the 2017 NBA Draft’s No. 1 overall pick. That’s not going to be entertained, unless things got funky in a three-team trade that involved, say, Robert Williams, Tristan Thompson and Marcus Smart.
If Celtics fans have an issue with Smart’s 3-point shot selection, we can assure you, it’s better than what Simmons offers.
We hope Simmons moves on from the Sixers and goes on to a long and successful career. He better, after robbing Donovan Mitchell or Jayson Tatum of a Rookie of the Year award.