By: Ryan Waterman
It wasn't even two months ago, that the Sixers completed their "star-hunting" mission, and ignited the championship aspirations of their fan base, by acquiring all-star forward Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Following the acquisition of Butler, the Sixers looked like they belonged in the conversation of the elite teams in the NBA, they finally looked like they belonged in the same breath as the Celtics, Raptors, Thunder, and Rockets. Championship hopes became expectations among fans, and basketball sprung to the forefront of a championship-starved city, in the midst of what ended up being a bizarre Eagles season.
Fast-forward to the last day of 2018, and the feel is a little bit different. The fan base has quieted a bit, expectations have been tempered, and while experts still put the Sixers name in the same breath as those elite organizations -- something about them just doesn't have that "elite" feel. They might sit second in the Atlantic Division, and have the seventh-best record in the league, but this team doesn't have that feel of being a championship contender. Instead, it feels as if they're destined for another early-Spring playoff exit.
The question on everyone's mind: Why?
It may not be a popular debate to engage in, but it's fair to ask -- Is Ben Simmons holding the 76ers back from joining the elite ranks? The unpopular opinion of this writer is yes, and if you'll allow me some of your time, I can explain why I believe as such.
Let's begin with the obvious elephant in the room.
Ben Simmons currently runs the point for this Sixers team. It's no secret that if you run the point, you're expected to score. Take, for example, guys such as James Harden, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, and many others. All of those names run the point for their respective squads, and sit in the top-16 in Points Per Game. Meanwhile, Ben Simmons barely ranks inside the top-60 of that same category. When you dig a little deeper, it's easy to understand why Simmons isn't more of a dominating scorer, and it has a lot to do with his shooting ability.
On the season, Simmons has attempted 36 shots this season outside of 10-feet away from the basket. Of those 36 shots, he's converted eight(!) for an anemic 22-percent. To make matters worse, he hasn't even attempted a three-point attempt this season, not that he'd be guaranteed to succeed if he did.
While it's true that Simmons has shot a rock-solid 57.8-percent from the field on the season, there's no denying the impact his lack of a jumper has on the Sixers offense. Most teams understand that the offense runs through Joel Embiid, but much like last season, game-planning against Ben Simmons limits Philadelphia's success. If you can force Simmons into mid-range shots, he rids himself of the ball, becoming a virtual non-factor. Sending him to the charity-stripe exposes yet another flaw. Taking away his inside scoring ability, makes Simmons nothing more than a contributor in dimes and boards, thus allowing teams to focus on locking down the recently-acquired Jimmy Butler, essentially making Philly's offense a one-dimensional machine that runs through Joel Embiid.
There's no denying that Ben Simmons is an excellent player. However, to become the perennial All-Star that many expected upon his arrival in the league, he must rely on more than his basketball I.Q, his ball-handling skills, and ability to crash the boards. He needs to improve his scoring ability. For him to achieve that, he'll need to develop a somewhat-reliable jump shot. Until he does, and while many may not like what I'm about to say, the Sixers will still sit a tier below the elite teams in the NBA, and remain on the outer-core of what a true championship contender looks like.
At about 1pm ET, the news broke on twitter via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic that the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves agreed on a blockbuster trade that would send 4-time All-Star, Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton to the 76ers. The Timberwolves, would acquire Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and 2022 second round pick in return. I can't believe we didn't even give up a first round pick that's what is shocking to me but hey Whatever It Takes!
By Eric Jacinto
Here are the Post Draft Interviews and introductory press conference of Zhaire Smith and Landry Shrmet. Both Brett Brown and Zhaire Smith did separate interviews on the morning show on 97.5 The Fanatic on Friday morning to address the draft.
By Eric Jacinto
Last night, was the 2018 NBA Draft and the 76ers made several moves. The 76ers drafted hometown and Villanova kid, Mikal Bridges at number ten and then traded him away six picks later to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith (SG, from Texas Tech) and a 2021 First round unprotected pick via Miami. They drafted Landry Sharmet (PG/SG, from Wichita State) at number 26.
By Eric Jacinto
Tonight the Philadelphia 76ers, were facing getting swept by their arch rivals the Boston Celtics in game four of the Eastern Conference semifinals but that didn't happen as the 76ers avoid the sweep winning by 11, 103-92. The series goes back to BeanTown (Boston) on Wednesday night for game five as the 76ers look to avoid elimination once again.