June 20th, 2021. After the Philadelphia 76ers blew a rather easy series to an inferior Atlanta Hawks team, All-Star guard Ben Simmons seemingly went MIA. Simmons had by far the most embarrassing stretch of games in his basketball career, showing a complete lack of aggression offensively while still not having a viable jump-shot. This, combined with his low-IQ decision-making, cost Philadelphia a great amount of success that season.
Simmons was being shopped around the league heavily by Daryl Morey. It took the 76ers months to find him a new home, but eventually, they were able to relocate the former All-NBA player. Despite holding out, Simmons still remained the centerpiece of the James Harden to Philadelphia move, sending the former number one overall pick to the Brooklyn Nets. Simmons has yet to play a game in the black and white, however, he will soon team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to form an All-Star level big three.
There are many concerns about Simmons, but many forget there was a player in a very similar situation to him just a few years ago. Think of Andrew Wiggins’ career path thus far. He was touted to be a future NBA superstar but was in a situation where he truly could not impact basketball. Then, Wiggins was moved to the Golden State Warriors, and after a few seasons of getting acclimated to the system, he became an All-Star and second-best player for the reigning NBA champions. He may not be anywhere close to the Kobe Bryant comparisons he received pre-draft, but he’s carved an irreplaceable role on a contending Warriors team.
The 76ers were always contenders with Ben Simmons. However, he’s now in arguably the perfect situation to carve out a Wiggins “glue guy” type role. He’s next to two of the most skilled perimeter guys the game has to offer in Irving and Durant, surrounded by world-class shooters in Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Royce O’Neale, and Patty Mills. They then have two great bench scorers to put the cherry on top, with Cam Thomas likely developing into a high-octane scoring guard and T.J. Warren potentially returning back to form.
This gives Simmons the easiest role you could ask him for. All he’ll be asked to do is defend, pass, and get to the rim. If he’s aggressive enough to get to the rim, a ton of offensive openings will be made for not only him, but the entire team. He has what it takes physically to be one of the most tenacious attackers in the game, and with all the perimeter talent around him, he can truly impact the game on another level if he takes advantage of it. After that, he’s just asked to be the defensive anchor, while running the offense in transition and setting guys up frequently.
Simmons isn’t being asked to do much. All he’s being asked to do, are the things he excels at. It’ll take him a little bit to get used to his new role, as it does with every player. However, after a season or so, expect Simmons to bounce back to top of the league territory quickly. He has all it takes from situational fit to physical build, he just has to put it all together and figure out the situation first.