Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will be on a Philadelphia 76ers team that looks much different in 2020-21 than it did in 2019-20. The organization not only hired a new, championship-winning coach in Doc Rivers, but it also hired Daryl Morey as its president of basketball operations. This has led to 76ers fans having high hopes for the upcoming season. Morey appears to have high hopes for his team, too. In fact, he recently made a bold proclamation about Simmons and Embiid.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have yet to fully live up to expectations
The Philadelphia 76ers had high hopes for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, while Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.
Embiid did not play in 2014-15 or 2015-16, and Simmons didn’t play in his rookie season in 2016-17. However, after Embiid played well in 31 games in 2016-17, he and Simmons finally played together in 2017-18.
Embiid averaged 22.9 points per game that season to go with 11 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He earned his first All-Star selection, too. Simmons, on the other hand, averaged 15.8 points per game, to go with 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists, which earned him the Rookie of the Year award. The two of them led the 76ers to a 52-30 record that year and to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They ultimately lost to the Boston Celtics, though.
The Sixers then added Jimmy Butler in 2018-19, and everyone thought they had a chance to reach the NBA Finals. This was especially with Embiid taking the next step by averaging 27.5 points per game, 13.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. However, the 76ers fell in the Eastern Conference Semifinals again. This time, though, they lost to the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors, in seven games.
Butler moved to the Miami Heat in 2019-20, but the 76ers still had high expectations. Simmons, though, missed the playoffs due to injury, and the Sixers got swept in the First Round by the Boston Celtics.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both have a ton of talent, but the 76ers have yet to live up to expectations with them.
The Philadelphia 76ers have had a busy offseason
In addition to adding players like Danny Green, Dwight Howard, Seth Curry, and Tyrese Maxey this offseason, the Sixers have made some other big-time personnel changes. They ultimately parted ways with head coach Brett Brown and hired Doc Rivers, who coached the LA Clippers from 2013-14 through 2019-20. Rivers also won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2007-08.
The Sixers also hired Daryl Morey, the former Houston Rockets general manager, as their new team president of basketball operations. He had spent the last 13 years with Houston and made the Rockets competitive with the Kevin Durant-led Golden State Warriors. In 2017-18, Chris Paul, James Harden, and the Rockets took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals and even took a 3-2 lead in the series.
The additions of Morey and Rivers can certainly make the 76ers winners for years. However, will Embiid and Simmons actually live up to expectations?
Daryl Morey made a bold proclamation despite recent James Harden rumors
Morey is not afraid of taking big risks. And with his former superstar on the Houston Rockets, James Harden, wanting to be traded, there have been rumors connecting Harden to the Sixers. However, many people believe that the 76ers would have to include Simmons in a trade for Harden. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, though, report that “the Sixers are unwilling to include All-Stars Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in trades.”
Morey appears to be doubling down on that report, too, and he is doing so by making a bold proclamation.
According to USA Today’s Sixers Wire, Morey did an AMA on Instagram recently, and he boldly said that the 76ers “have two good shots at [winning] MVP this year,” with Embiid and Simmons.
Of course, both of these guys have a ton of talent, but they will need to play much better in 2020-21 if they want to win MVP. Embiid’s scoring and rebounding numbers dropped last season. Simmons also saw his scoring and rebounding numbers drop last year, but his assist numbers did improve slightly, and his steals per game increased significantly.
It will also certainly be challenging for Embiid or Simmons to win MVP when there are players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and others. However, Morey seems to be extremely confident in his guys, and he is sending this message while rumors continue to fly around from every direction.
It will be interesting to see how these guys play this season and if they can finally exceed expectations with the 76ers. It appears that Morey believes that they can.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference