Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has been getting destroyed by seemingly every sports pundit the last 48 hours after his dreadful performance against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the 2021 playoffs. One of those critics is ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. The veteran media personality called Simmons an “atrocity on the offensive side of the ball” on Monday.
Tuesday brought even more Simmons slander. However, this time, it was from someone presumably inside the Sixers organization.
Stephen A. Smith reads aloud text message about Ben Simmons
During Tuesday’s edition of First Take, Smith received a text message from one of his sources, and it was about Simmons. The ESPN analyst read the text message aloud.
“He doesn’t work. He doesn’t listen, and everyone around him is family, and he’s constantly babied.”
Simmons won the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year Award despite not having an outside game. He averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists and did all of his damage at the rim. The hope within the Sixers organization was that he would work on his jump shot during the summer and develop a consistent outside touch.
However, that hasn’t happened, and now Simmons could be traded three years after winning the Rookie of the Year Award.
Ben Simmons has become a liability on offense
Simmons is a three-time All-Star and one of the top defenders in the NBA. However, he’s a liability on offense since he can’t shoot the basketball or hit free-throws.
In the Sixers’ second-round loss to the Hawks, Simmons averaged 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.6 assists while shooting 33.3% from the free-throw line. He lost all confidence in his game, so much so that he passed up a dunk attempt in Game 7 and didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter in Games 4-7.
Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t a good jump shooter either, but at least he shoots the ball and puts his head down and attacks the basket. Simmons had no sense of aggression in the Hawks series and almost looked like he was throwing the game.
The Sixers signed Simmons to a five-year, $177.2 million maximum rookie extension in 2019. A max contract player can’t be afraid to shoot the ball. Every summer, we hear that Simmons will work on his jumper and come back a different player. Sometimes, we even see videos of the point-forward knowing down jumpers in pick-up games with other NBA players.
However, Simmons can’t fool the NBA world anymore. Until we see him take shots in real games and knock them down, he will be labeled as a player who doesn’t work on his craft and is not motivated to become a better player, just like the text message Stephen A. received said.
The Sixers probably can’t even trade the LSU product
Simmons likely has zero trade value around the NBA right now. The Sixers probably won’t get anything of value in return for the Australian native. Some team could try and buy low on Simmons and essentially steal him from the Sixers. If Daryl Morey is desperate to move on from the 2019-20 steals champion, he could possibly move Simmons for the best offer that comes up.
However, the best move for the Sixers is to get Simmons to improve his jump shot this offseason and become an aggressive offensive option. If the 24-year-old can raise his trade value by playing well to begin the 2021-22 season, the Sixers could possibly get a significant return for him.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Simmons this offseason. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers says the organization has a plan to fix the youngster’s jump shot, but we have heard that statement before, and nothing has changed about his game since his rookie season.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.