The Philadelphia 76ers are headed towards a Ben Simmons marriage much to the dismay of Simmons who was hoping the Lakers would be gifted with the top prize. That would have added millions to Simmons shoe deal and force Nike into a new ceiling for the soon to be rookie. But more than likely, Simmons will join the mess in Philly and the 76ers will once again bore us to tears as they get one more turn at rebuilding by failing. Though it must be pointed out that Ben Simmons, if the 76ers draft him, is the most talented player on the 76ers roster. That’s the good news. The bad news is Simmons has zero offensive game which fits in with the rest of the Philly crew (minus Jahlil Okafor) he will suddenly be paired with.
Thankfully, the 76ers axed self-anointed genius Sam Hinkie, the GM who called what the Sixers were doing “the process”. Their annual mission of crumbling and buckling was derided and ridiculed, and to add insult to injury, it brought zero dividends. In 2013-14, the 76ers won 19 games. The next season they won 18 games. And this past year they were a particular embarrassment which led to the Hinkie ouster, but not before he penned a War and Peace like resignation later, his tortured psyche trying to make everyone understand rebuilding takes years. The 76ers won 10 games in 2015-16.
Ben Simmons will be a step up in the talent department for the 76ers which is not to say they are going to make the playoffs anytime soon. Simmons will join a club that was second to last in scoring and field goal percentage and 24th in 3-point accuracy. Simmons can’t score either but he is a dynamic open court player who can pass the ball and finish around the rim. The best thing you can say about his defense is that he played with apathy. He has a lot of development on both offense and defense and the 76ers need help now. They are Siberia as far as free agents go. No one wants to endure the ridicule the 76ers have thrust upon the league by their three year collapse.
After the trading of Jrue Holliday in 2012, of which injuries were purposefully concealed, this gut and slash plan of the 76ers has been in effect and Simmons is the first real star-like player the 76ers have been able to pull into their net. Simmons will help with ticket sales in a city that used to serenade Allen Iverson and where you can now get a $10.00 experience of a team that is worse than a car crash. Simmons is exciting and a highlight reel, even as he is not NBA polished. Fans will want to see what he can do. But he is only 19 years old.
The 76ers plan to fail was just for this moment, to get a Ben Simmons, so in a twist of irony, they did what they set out to do. It just took much longer than anticipated.
In the process of failing the past three years, the 76ers haven’t developed talent. It led many to ask: what has been the point of all of this misery? The new question is: can Ben Simmons single handedly reverse the course of the 76ers?
These are the 76ers draft picks since 2012 and what they have been in the NBA (not much.)
Maurice Harkless (traded to Orlando): 279 games, 45.9% shooting, 6.7 points, 3.5 rebounds
Justin Hamilton (traded on draft night to Miami): 49 games, 47.5% shooting, 5.0 points, 2.9 rebounds
Tornike Shengalia (traded on draft night to Brooklyn): 45 games, 45% shooting, 1.3 points, 0.9 rebounds, playing in Spain
Pierre Jackson (traded with Jrue Holiday): Idaho Stampede (D-league)
Glen Rice Jr. (traded on draft night to Washington): 16 games, 26% shooting, 2.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, not in the league in 2016
Michael Carter-Williams (traded in February to Milwaukee): 190 games, 41.2% shooting, 14.5 points, 6.1 assists
Joel Embiid: no NBA games- injury
Elfrid Payton (traded on draft night to Orlando): 155 games, 43.0% shooting, 9.7 points, 6.5 assists
K.J. McDaniels (traded to Houston): 99 games, 39.7% shooting, 5.8 points, 2.4 rebounds
Jerami Grant: 142 games, 39.4% shooting, 8.2 points, 3.9 rebounds
Russ Smith (traded the day after he was drafted to New Orleans): 27 games 31.9% shooting, 2.0 points, 0.7 assists
Vasilije Micic: no NBA games played- playing in Germany
Nemanja Dangubic (traded on draft night to San Antonio): no NBA games played- playing in Serbia
Jahlil Okafor: 53 games, 50.8% shooting, 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds
Willy Hernangomez: no NBA games played, hasn’t played in 2016
Richaun Holmes: 51 games, 51.4% shooting, 2.6 rebounds
Arturas Gudaitis: no NBA games played, playing in Lithuania
J.P. Tokoto: Oklahoma City Blue (D-League)
The 76ers have conveniently self-identified themselves as the NBA’s running joke and they have done this on purpose. No amount of money is going to entice a free agent to an organization that trades talented players, keeps mediocre players, conceals injuries and seemingly has no blueprint on how to build a team with a combination of young talent and experienced veterans.
It must be said that Sam Hinkie’s optimism was nothing more than imaginary thinking. It is what children do when they read fairy tales and expect happy endings- castles, rainbows, the moon made of cheese- for the rest of their life. There are no happy endings in 76erland and won’t be for a long, long time which in the long run, is a black mark on the NBA brand because once upon a time Wilt Chamberlain and Dr. J. and Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson and Moses Malone left their mark in Philly.
Ben Simmons is next man up.
photo via llananba