The Philadelphia 76ers were projected to be a top team in the entire NBA, with a projected 55-27 record, per Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report. Somehow, they are only 23-13, and sixth, not in the NBA, but in the Eastern Conference. So, what is going on with the 76ers? Why are they not living up to the hype?
First, Al Horford has been a complete let down, and it is looking like the 76ers overpaid for his production on the court. He was supposed to be a shooting power forward alongside the below average shooter in Joel Embiid, but he is shooting a subpar 34.1 percent from the three-point line. Also, his field goal percentage and true shooting percentage are the worst of his career, at 45 and 52.4 percent, respectively. Overall, Al Horford was signed by the Sixers to fill the lack of shooting on the team, and he has yet to do that.
Second, Ben Simmons is not living up to expectations. Coming out of the draft, he was expected to be an amazing all-around player that just needed a decent jumpshot. Three and a half years later, two and a half playing in the NBA and one rehabbing and training, he has made 2 out of his 22 attempts at the 3-point line. That is 9 percent from downtown! Everyone knew how great of a playmaker and finisher Simmons was coming out of college. He has had three offseasons to fix his shot, all of which us the fans have seen many videos of him making them both in practice and in pregame warmups, yet he still cannot make any in a real game. This leads to his fit with one of the best centers in the NBA, Joel Embiid.
The two best players on the 76ers roster, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, simply do not fit together. Joel needs to be able to set screens for shooters and dominate in the paint, but when he has a point guard who needs the ball in his hands to be useful and cannot shoot, it forces him to play outside of his comfort zone. Embiid should not be forced to play outside and shoot 3s in situations where Ben Simmons has no chance of making the layup. He needs a point guard who can both facilitate and shoot, so that Embiid can stick to what he knows best, post offense.
Overall, this team does not fit well together. The only starter who truly fits with Joel Embiid is Josh Richardson. Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Ben Simmons are all below average shooters. In today’s NBA, teams need, at minimum, three average or better 3 point shooters. Elton Brand has been signing or trading for players based on name, and not fit. It started with the Jimmy Butler trade. They gave up two great fits, in Dario Saric and Robert Covington, for a below average shooter who takes the ball away from Ben Simmons who needs to be able to facilitate. Then, they traded three good shooters in Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, and Landry Shamet, for Tobias Harris. To top it off, they gave up on Markelle Fultz way too early by trading him to the Magic for a player who is no longer in the league, in Jonathan Simmons. After letting J.J. Redick walk and signing Al Horford, the 76ers had officially ruined “The Process”.
I believe there is only one solution, and that is to trade Ben Simmons for a point guard who fits with Joel Embiid. I do not think the 76ers need to choose between the two, because in this era of basketball, the point guard needs to be able to shoot the ball. Now don’t get me wrong, Ben Simmons is a very good NBA player; he just does not fit with the best player on the team. I also suggest attempting to trade Al Horford for a better shooter at the 4 spot, who can also guard both the perimeter and the paint. I believe Al Horford could have been in the running for Defensive Player of the Year a year or two ago as the anchor of the Celtics defense, but he is not an amazing perimeter defender. It would be nearly impossible to trade almost their entire team for better fits, because players with similar value on other teams most likely will not be traded. Almost every team in the league is happy where they are, and will not trade young assets or borderline All-Stars for players who do not fit their team.