Can pushing Ben Simmons forward really solve any problems for the 76ers?

Arguing around Ben Simmons’ stay or go has always been the biggest story of the 76ers offseason. This is perfectly reasonable-his series against Atlanta has always been one of the most talked about topics in the entire NBA, and in the trading rumors that have since surfaced, the dunk offer has not yet materialized (at least in public). Trading just for the sake of trading is how badly the franchise ends up in trouble.

On the other hand, some people are building some cases and they want to see Ben Simmons stay in almost any situation. The main argument has been a theme for many years: Simmons should be used as a forward, not a point guard, and this may be his path to becoming a more influential player, whether for the 76ers or others.

Is this Philadelphia’s panacea, or is it just a shuffle without real impact? I think the answer is neither, it depends on how you look at it.

Simmons and the 76ers can benefit from it

Regardless of what you think about Simmons’ game, his contract, and his position among competitors, it is still true that he was underutilized in the two regular seasons of the playoffs.Five years after being drafted, he was responsible for his game state, but the choices made in style did not make full use of him. do well done.

At the top, there is a small ball angle. Long-time readers know my suspicion that Simmons is the fifth position-he doesn’t have enough length or (at least for now) the instinct to protect the rim-but you will look for what you can do from it to watch the offense, not to watch Defense. “Simmons and shooter” does not mean that Simmons must control the ball or even initiate an attack to have an impact. His background as a power forward should suit him here.

Simmons’ short pass is a skill that is hardly used in Philadelphia, mainly because there is always someone in the space he wants to roll into. Using Simmons in any part of the pick-and-roll will cause trouble, but even in the playoffs, you can see that he can easily attract attention and hit open shooters from the outside:

Is this Washington’s great defense? Of course not, and every guard will not force opponents to bring high positions in the pick-and-roll defense like Seth Curry attracted Daniel Garford here. But if given the opportunity, this is a game that Simmons can play regularly, and he did not do so for various reasons.

Some of these reasons are “self-inflicted” to some extent-Simmons has long wanted the title and responsibility of point guard, which prompted Philadelphia to invest resources elsewhere as it made commitments in this direction. Having said that, even for a team that promises a maximum salary to someone called a point guard, they lack the play of a guard, which seems to have changed last year. Curry’s presence is a good start, and if the 76ers can’t make major external acquisitions, Tyrese Maxi may take on significantly increased responsibilities. The rookie has made great progress throughout the season. His work ethic and ability to quickly fix loopholes have won strong evaluations, which makes many people think he can enter the starting lineup next year.

I’m not fully in place yet, at least until we see how things falter, if the pick-and-roll combination with Simmons works, he will need to make the defender pay for the cover. But Maxey’s speed in the second team combined with Simmons’ athleticism and short-range passes may be very strong under shooters around them. As we saw early last season, if they sink too deep into the basket and/or bigs, Maxi has the ability to punish the defense with mid-range shooters and base runners. If Simmons is left alone, he will There is a chance to hit the shooter or (probably) easily layup and dunk on the rim.

If the 76ers find a way to make a major acquisition, like Kyle Lowry, without trading Simmons, that’s even more so. If this is the route that Philadelphia decides to take, there will be major financial hurdles on the road (not to mention sacrificing lineup and draft picks), but Lowry offers a more refined and dangerous version of any pick-and-roll attack you can run Simmons and the ball-handler are present. He can punish dropped coverage, pass the ball to the wobbly Simmons, and if the team cheats too much to prevent the match, he can skip the pass.

Simmons plays a big man’s bench and a true guard takes charge of the offense, and there are many ways to hurt you.Simmons catches the ball in the low post and can play against multiple players who can make a three-pointer or Offensive steals after the dribble are a big deal, and the latter is characterized by something they have lacked for most of the past five years. The 76ers are slowly moving away from “single-task” players on the offensive end (although still not fast enough), and you can certainly argue that the small progress in the entire rotation may be enough to make an impact and put them on the path of true competition.

When the 76ers had Jimmy Butler in town, Brett Brown did find a way to get Simmons at least partly in the offense, when things got tough at critical moments. Tobias Harris missed a three-pointer is a shot he has been complaining about for years, but it is a good example of keeping Simmons involved by opening the floor and asking him to move instead of being satisfied with him drifting to No man’s land.

Rivers is not responsible for Simmons’ performance against Atlanta, but getting every player (especially your main organizer) involved is one of the main tasks of the head coach. Simmons has been pushed to the front in the past, and although we now know that he is not satisfied with the arrangement, they can still get more from him.

The 76ers forced the Embiid/Simmons combination for legitimate reasons last season. If you give them breathing space and play their own style in the same game, they will still spend a lot of time together. Although Doc Rivers may lament how small they are when they don’t have real big men on the court, small but skilled people are better than big and clumsy people.

Remaining problem

The biggest problem with this paper is that it is based on the premise that Simmons’ problem can be solved through tactics and complementarity. Although there is no doubt that having another outside creator on the field is good for him, and for Rivers, he can improve his way of use, but it is also very obvious that his biggest problem is mental , As he admitted when he was with the Hawks, the series gradually disappeared this summer.

You can play small, you can arrange more defenders on the court, and you can try to get him into the right headspace by letting him participate throughout the game. But in the end, if Simmons does not find a way to solve the psychological obstacles in the last few minutes of the game, then his weaknesses will be manifested in the same way regardless of the lineup around him. Playing four-on-five against Maxey, Lowry, or any number of other guards on the court is still four-on-five, and that guard is replacing someone in the final lineup (probably Seth Curry), which is very helpful and productive on offense. on.

Each style has its problems. If the final lineup looks like Maxey-Curry-Simmons-Harris-Embiid, then your backcourt can easily be defeated by a team with larger wings and guards, and Maxey’s shot is much larger. Maxey-Green-Simmons-Harris-Embiid has fewer defensive problems and performed well enough in limited low-pressure representatives last season, but fewer people can dribble the ball, and young guards have the same shooting and shooting pressure. Will you really enter the playoffs next year and bet on a 21-year-old player to control the team at a critical moment? This is not fair to anyone, especially Maxi, even considering the confidence he has shown in himself and the confidence he has gained from the organization.

(According to the data from Cleaning the Glass, Maxey and Simmons’ lineup did not completely set the world on fire, and they scored more than 5 points per 100 offenses, ranking 10th on defense. Most of these groups rarely have time together. , The difference between Dwight Howard’s performance on the court and Embiid’s performance on the court is huge, the difference between slaughter and efficiency. The question is whether they are effective. enough, Especially because we have many years of evidence that, for beginners, the positive difference does not necessarily mean that there is any meaning at the critical moment. )

If the 76ers somehow make a deal with Lowry and allow them to put the Lowry-Green-Simmons-Harris-Embiid group on the court, then this is a high-end result, and you might achieve it for this group Best state.YesYou still need to ask whether a team with Kyle Lowry as the driving force of the perimeter offense is destined to win anything. Only when partnered with the star wing of his life did Lowry become a champion defender, not a very good player in a team with insufficient habituation. It is true that he did not play with an MVP-level big man like Joel Embiid, but he will also work with a player who is ostensibly uninterested in the fourth quarter offense. Even unrealistic results are imperfect.

It sounds good to build the second unit with Simmons’ idea around the ball, but the cascade effect must be considered. With the small Simmons lineup as a feature, you are basically forced to eat Embiid’s time to attack the bench big man, which is often fruitful for Philadelphia in terms of scoreboards and fouls, allowing the team to enter the point. The ball is a huge feature of Embiid’s experience.This is not a problem in the playoffs. Regardless of your bench mode, the top big men will affect Embiid’s playing time, but in the regular season rotation, you are cutting into a favorable setting for your best players. so that Maybe Unlock Simmons in a configuration in which he will never play in the really important minutes.

It’s hard to ignore the history here.This is a problem discovered by scouts, dating back to his freshman season at Louisiana State University, where he Have done Playing as a forward will eventually lead to the same results you see today. Jonathan Givoni, DraftExpress at the time and ESPN now, Wrote this introduction After Simmons’ lonely college season at LSU:

As the season progressed, opponents were able to suppress him very effectively in the half, as long as he stepped away from him by five feet. Simmons’ reaction was to become very passive and seemed to pay attention to jump shots, even in the late game, when his team desperately needed him to be aggressive. In order to reach his full potential and effectively partner with other players, Simmons may need to significantly improve his jump shot ability or be surrounded by a large number of shooters as the main ball handler.

Simmons’ level of talent is undoubtedly extraordinary, and he still has the potential to develop into an incredibly unique dislocation in the NBA, especially if he shows willingness and openness to address his shortcomings. However, if he is to reach his full potential, he must significantly improve his way of playing. [DraftExpress]

At that time, considering Simmons’ performance at Louisiana State University and the talents around him, Giverny was criticized for his overall view of Simmons, and many people thought he was too harsh.This is still where we find ourselves now, multiple coaches, a new position, and later dozens of teammates, as The Sixers are looking for how to solve this problem.

Simmons is now older, smarter, and perhaps more humble after the humiliating failure, although we can only speculate about the situation now. It is not impossible that change becomes what he needs to rediscover himself. It is also possible, as he told reporters after the 7th game, “I am who I am.”

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