Ben Detrick’s Evaluation of the Ben Simmons Situation Is Puzzling

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll start this by saying that Ben Detrick is a good writer, a great basketball reporter, and his Bryan Colangelo burner scoop gave Philadelphia one of the greatest moments of comedy this city has ever seen.

But his latest opinion on the Ben Simmons saga (tragedy?) is infuriating.

It’s “I know better than the rest of you casuals” at its finest, just weeks after 76ers fans suffered through a spectacular case of futility from the 76ers’ talented, yet absurdly frustrating, point guard star this postseason.

I may or may not have went blind for several minutes after reading this befuddling take.

It’s all emotional baggage? The Sixers have no basketball incentive to trade Simmons?

I think if you watched the second round of the playoffs this year you’d see all the incentive the 76ers need to trade Simmons, and 99% is basketball incentive related.

Every single one of his foibles — the weaknesses this city has been crowing about (or futilely defending for four years as no big deal) became difficult to ignore, like a long-dormant cyst flaring up and becoming impossibly inflamed at the worst moment.

We know the stats. We know what we saw play out for seven nightmare-inducing games…but because we’re gluttons for punishment in Philadelphia, let’s rub lemon juice in our eyes and revisit the numbers/lowlights:

  • One of the worst NBA free-throw shooting performances ever, finishing the postseason making his free throws at a 34.2% clip, the lowest rate ever since Shaq’s 2006 mark of 37.4% for players who shot a minimum of 70 attempts.
  • Hack-a-Ben becoming so effective it forced Doc Rivers to take Simmons off the floor at the end of games in favor of Shake Milton.
  • Three total field goal attempts in the fourth quarter FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES AGAINST THE HAWKS. Sure, he made all three, but for the majority of the fourth quarter in each of those games the 76ers were effectively playing 4 on 5.
  • An embarrassing miscue for an open dunk in the fourth quarter of game 7, choosing to dump off a sure bucket to Matisse Thybulle with only looming defensive stalwart Trae Young in his way. We don’t have to see the clip again, right? RIGHT? The hell with it, why not? Let’s check it out again.

I get it. It’s a fool’s errand to put the Hawks series loss solely on Simmons.  Embiid had several crucial turnovers down the stretch in Game 7.

Tobias Harris disappeared during crucial moments. The bench gave them next to nothing for several games…yet to believe that the Sixers have NO BASKETBALL INCENTIVE to trade Simmons after his performance is ludicrous.

It wasn’t a blip on the radar for Simmons. It wasn’t a hiccup. This seems to be what he is, and if it’s not going to work with Embiid than it won’t work in Philadelphia.

That’s all the incentive the franchise needs. Embiid is the face of the city, he’s your best player, and his window is open RIGHT NOW. The 76ers will invest millions more in his performance moving forward, and if Simmons doesn’t fit into that blueprint? If Simmons REFUSES to fit into that blueprint? Bye bye.

As Michael Corleone once said, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”

Of course they have the basketball incentive. It’s absurd to think they’re exploring the trade market for Simmons purely due to emotional baggage. Of course that’s part of the equation, but is it the main reason they’re exploring a trade for him? Oh my, no. This isn’t middle school. Daryl Morey doesn’t have a burn book and he’s not looking to trade Simmons out of spite.

And I’m fairly perplexed by the “toxic environment” he notes in his statement. What toxic environment?

It seems, if anything, the last four years Simmons has been so coddled in the organization by coaches, the front office, and even his fellow players that he didn’t feel the need to improve anything.

Nobody seems to hold him accountable for his flaws, to provide the tough love he so obviously needs to see that he could be so, SO much more effective, if he wasn’t scared to fail.

What has he improved, exactly, over the last four years?

Sure, we get the obligatory “Hey, Ben Simmons is shooting jump shots!” training video that’s released like clockwork every summer, but does any of that ever translate to game action? He’s always been an elite defender. This has never been a weakness of his game, so what exactly has he done to become more polished since entering the league?

And that’s the most perplexing part of these last four years. He has one incredibly obvious flaw in his game that hasn’t improved one iota. A point guard who doesn’t shoot, who is scared to shoot, is such an antiquated part of basketball history, more at home in 1989 than in 2021.

Simmons’ refusal to shoot is like putting restrictor plates on a new Lamborghini. Sure the car still looks great, it’s a marvel of engineering, but you’re severely limiting what it can do. It will get you where you need to go, but you didn’t invest in a Lamborghini as a simple conveyance. You want more of a return out of the luxury car you’ve made such a hefty investment in that a simple Toyota Camry could give you.

At some point you have to consider trading it in and hoping someone will be willing to give you a Ferrari in return. It won’t be as impressive as the Lambo, but it may be a better fit in the long run. It’s worth looking into.

So yes, Detrick, the 76ers do have quite a bit of basketball incentive to trade Simmons. You can’t fault them for looking to at least looking to trade a piece of a puzzle they’ve been trying to jam into a misshapen opening for the past several years.

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