We all remember that massive leap the 76ers had in the 2017-18 season. Philadelphia was one of the most exciting teams to watch and people were saying they were going to make the Finals in a couple of years. Fast forward to 2020, and the Sixers have gotten worse than better, and are one of the most disappointing teams this year. It seems as if, everyone has just taken a step backward in progression and the mediocracy is painful to watch.
Ben Simmons is an above average point guard at best, not great by any means. This era of basketball is all about shooting, and Ben simply can’t do it. It is ridiculous to think, that he didn’t make a single three until this season. Sure, he’s a great defender, rebounder, and passer, but a point guard needs to be able to score in more ways than layups and dunks in 2020. Yes he has had injury problems this year, but that’s an even bigger problem for Philly. Simmons’ amount of games has been going down every year, which is a major problem.
Joel Embiid is an elite center, when healthy. And there is the problem right there, “when healthy”. Embiid will never be able to play 82 games, and that is alarming considering he is their best player. Joel also seems to have a bit of an ego problem. Don’t get me wrong, what he says about other players is funny, but he should be more focused on getting his team past the second round as their leader. He has the potential to be a league MVP, but he needs to mature before Philly can get anywhere near to a championship.
And the front office decisions have been questionable as well. People, nearly a year later are still wondering why the Sixers gave a declining 33 year old, Al Horford a near $100 million guaranteed contract. Tobias Harris, who although is improving this season probably isn’t worth $180 million either. Josh Richardson, who was a part of the Jimmy Butler sign and trade, has had a season full of injury, has gotten worse, and is averaging ‘meh’ numbers, is receiving $40 million across four seasons. Yes, Miami did pay him that contract, but that was when people were saying that he was going to be a future star of the league. Right now, it looks like he’s going nowhere. And the bench is not championship caliber to compete with the Bucks, Raptors, or Celtics.
Here’s what we think the Sixers need to do. Trade Ben Simmons and Al Horford. Ben for one, hasn’t improved on the offensive side of the ball since his rookie season. Like mentioned before, they need to trade for someone that can at least shoot 38% from three, and that can consistently hit jumpers. Someone like Zach LaVine is the perfect candidate to replace Simmons. He shoots 38% from three with eight attempts per game, he is great at going to the rim, he is good at rebounding, passing and he is even a good defender. LaVine is also on a cheaper deal and still has two full years left on his contract, and it is clear that LaVine is also frustrated in Chicago. We don’t know what the Sixers could package in the deal, but that would be a game changer for Philadelphia. Al Horford is going to be difficult to find a trade for, but Philly has brought this upon themselves. Julius Randle would have been an excellent choice to sign over Horford, and you can’t argue they wouldn’t have had enough money because Randle is on a $110 million cheaper contract.
Unless someone other than Embiid can take the next step, Philadelphia is just another Indiana. They’ll always be having above average regular seasons, but they’ll never make real noise in the playoffs. Something needs to happen now in Philly, before it’s too late.