On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Ben Simmons had the game of his career against the Brooklyn Nets. He finished the game with 34 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and 5 steals, the first triple double of its kind! He also shot 12-14 from the field and 10-14 from the free throw line. But what does this mean for the 76ers and their future?
In the last 7 games without their All-Star center, Joel Embiid, the 76ers have been completely fine with a 5-2 record. Ben Simmons himself has averaged 21.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 7.9 assists, along with 2.1 steals per contest. He has been amazing defensively, and I believe, is in the running for an All-Defensive First Team. But, I think Ben Simmons is sending a pretty big message here. He doesn’t need to have a jumpshot to succeed with this team. He is also showing that he is more durable than Joel Embiid. He has only missed four games in his three years in the NBA. In the two games he has missed this year, Joel Embiid hasn’t performed up to par, averaging just 18.5 points and 12 rebounds. This makes the Sixers’ season very confusing because it seems like they need to make a move to become true contenders, or Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid need to learn to play together, but everytime Simmons gets confidence and controls the game is when Joel Embiid is out due to injury.
Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz have also been key players during this stretch, as they play almost polar opposite styles. Korkmaz, when given enough playtime, is a great shooter off the bench. Thybulle can lockdown the best ball-handler on the opposing team, and can get as much as four steals and blocks a game. Thybulle is also a streaky shooter who can work well in transition with Simmons. So maybe Simmons has most of the pieces around him to succeed…
Maybe this means that the 76ers don’t have to blow up the team. They can get away with trading for one more bench piece to elevate their team that much more. A guy like Davis Bertans would make this team a contender with his shooting ability that they need at the power forward position. A player like Derrick Rose can give them an extra playmaker off the bench or be an off-ball shooter with Ben Simmons at the point. I’m honestly not sure what the 76ers need to do at this point. On one hand, when Embiid is healthy, Ben Simmons doesn’t shoot the ball and makes Embiid play outside. On the other, when Embiid is hurt, Ben Simmons can tear up any defense in his way. But Embiid can’t be traded, right? He is the best center in the NBA and possibly the most dominant in this era. But the fit is so awkward with a point guard who looks like he has all he truly needs to dominate the league. My head hurts just thinking about all of this…I would hate to be in Elton Brand’s position right now.