The pressure is mounting for the Philadelphia 76ers, but could it be the end of the road for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons if they see an early exit?
The 2019-20 NBA season has not gone as planned for the Philadelphia 76ers. When play resumes next month, they will be the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference, faced with a significant amount of pressure to dig themselves out of this hole. If they find themselves at home after an early exit instead, some might question the long-term fit of Philadelphia’s star duo Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
However, given the circumstances and controversial moves surrounding this franchise in recent memory, Embiid and Simmons should not be held at fault, no matter what happens.
More from Hoops Habit
Had it not been for one miraculous, Kawhi Leonard game-winning shot to send the 76ers home early in last season’s Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, this narrative might not exist anymore. There have always been rumblings about the duo’s fit together, and one shot pushed that idea much further than it should ever have.
That 2018-19 Philadelphia roster was stacked from top to bottom with talent and breaking them up doomed Philadelphia. Rather than placing blame on Embiid and Simmons, who have been great for the 76ers since joining forces, general manager Elton Brand deserves some criticism. This team had both Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick, two pieces that complimented that duo perfectly and ultimately let them slip away.
The team lost both of them this offseason and replaced the duo with Al Horford and Josh Richardson. The signing of Horford was questionable from day one, given the already present spacing issues between Simmons and Embiid and the massive four-year $109 million contract they gave him.
Because of that signing, and the belief that Richardson could be the same kind of shooter that Redick was, the Embiid-Simmons duo suffered immensely. As a tandem, the pair had an offensive rating of 104.7 this season. For reference, that number is down significantly compared to the past two seasons, as it was 113.3 in 2017-18, and 112.8 in 2018-19.
Although their health hampered the team this season, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are not to blame for the Philadelphia 76ers’ struggles. Breaking up this talented duo would be the wrong move, no matter how their season ends. These two are 23 and 25 years old, and have a long future in the NBA, hopefully together.
The market value for either of these players would also be too much that another team could offer something truly of equal value. When trading away arguably two players who are among the best of their position throughout the entire league, the return haul would be significant, but still unlikely to be as valuable.
Keeping this tandem together for the foreseeable future is the right move and the only way to go. For the doubters, the 76ers are shaping up to make a run when the season restarts next month. With a healthy Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons coming back into the lineup, the 6-seeded Philadelphia 76ers could be a dark horse candidate if they can come out of the gates firing.
Part of the reason that this team dropped to the 6-seed was the absence of both Embiid and Simmons. In Philadelphia’s 65 games this season, the star-studded duo missed a combined 32 games, which played a prominent factor in their 39-26 record. With the second easiest schedule among the 22 teams returning to Orlando, they could use this opportunity to their advantage.No matter how things go, breaking these two All-Stars up before they reach their primes would be a monumental mistake.
Floor spacing issues will take center stage and likely hamper this team next month. Nevertheless, this is something that the team should look to correct this upcoming offseason. This duo can undoubtedly co-exist; they just need the proper pieces surrounding them to showcase their full potential.