Philadelphia 76ers superstar big man Joel Embiid sounds like he’s tired of playing with Ben Simmons. The two All-Stars aren’t a good fit together on the court and haven’t led the Sixers past the second round of the playoffs.
Embiid has always talked positively about Simmons in the past. However, after the Sixers lost to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, he not-so-subtly destroyed his All-Star teammate.
Joel Embiid basically called out Ben Simmons for not dunking the ball
Simmons had an easy dunk attempt in Game 7 against the Hawks in the fourth quarter. However, he was so scared to get fouled that he passed the ball to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled on a layup attempt with the Sixers down 88-86.
Thybulle went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line. The Hawks reeled off a quick 5-0 run to go ahead 93-87 with 2:31 left in regulation and wound up winning by a final score of 103-96. During his postgame media session, Embiid said he believed Simmons opting against taking an open opportunity under the basket ended up being the turning point in the loss.
“Man, I will be honest. I thought the turning point was, you know, when we, I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot, and we made one free throw, and we missed the other, and they came down and scored,” Embiid said.
Embiid played the entire Hawks series on a torn meniscus in his right knee and still averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds. It’s a shame that his All-Star floor general can’t shoot the basketball and is a liability on offense. It’s been that way for the past couple of seasons, and Game 7 against the Hawks should be the final time Embiid and Simmons share the floor as teammates.
Joel Embiid can’t win with Ben Simmons as his sidekick
Embiid needs a new partner in crime next season. He can’t win a title when his sidekick fails to attempt a single shot in the fourth quarter in five out of the seven games against the Hawks.
Simmons shot 15-of-45 (33%) on foul shots against Atlanta and 34.2% from the free-throw line in the 2021 playoffs. It’s the worst free-throw percentage in NBA playoff history for a player with at least 70 attempts.
It probably won’t happen, but Embiid needs to sit down with Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, and Doc Rivers this offseason and voice his displeasure in playing with Simmons. There is basically zero floor spacing on the court when JoJo and Simmons play together. The Sixers’ offense could become deadly if its No. 2 option could score from the perimeter. It would create more space for Embiid to operate in the post.
Several pundits believe the Sixers should trade Simmons to the Portland Trail Blazers for shooting guard CJ McCollum, one of the best three-level scorers in the NBA. However, the Blazers may not be interested in acquiring Simmons after watching him play poorly versus the Hawks. The LSU product also has one of the worst contracts in the NBA considering he can’t and won’t shoot the ball. Simmons is owed $140.4 million over the next four seasons.
Embiid is undoubtedly one of the most dominant players in the NBA. He likely knows he can’t take the next step and become a champion with Simmons by his side, so he must approach management this offseason about parting ways with the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year and getting perimeter scoring around him.
The Sixers keep saying the same thing
Year after year, the Sixers say Simmons will work on his jump shot in the summer and return a different player. However, the All-Defensive selection hasn’t improved his outside game since he entered the league.
Despite history telling us that Simmons won’t develop a jump shot, Rivers isn’t giving up on his guy, telling reporters that the organization has a plan to fix the Australian native’s game.
“I believe, without going into detail with what we’re doing, I believe we know what the right work is, and the right type of work, and the right way to do it,” Rivers said. “You can do the work all the time, but if it’s not done in the right way and the right type of work, you may not improve.”
At some point, Embiid and the rest of the players on the Sixers have to get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again. It’s time for the Simmons era to end in Philadelphia and for Embiid to have a legitimate scoring threat as his sidekick.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.