By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer
One common theme 76ers fans knew they were going to see heading into this season was load management. The front office and coaching staff's top priority throughout the regular season is making sure the team's top stars are fresh and healthy for the playoffs. So far, we have seen this for Joel Embiid and Al Horford, but is head coach Brett Brown missing a guy that he should be pumping the breaks on as well?
Although there is not much of a need to sit him completely, Brown needs to focus on cutting down Ben Simmons’ minutes on a night-to-night basis. Simmons is averaging 34.3 minutes per game this season, and if you take out the game against the Utah Jazz where he played only 10 minutes due to a mild AC joint sprain he is averaging 35.8 minutes per night.
The Sixers played 14 games in November, and Simmons played at least 36 minutes in 10 of those 14 games. In the Sixers’ overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, he logged just under 50 minutes on the court. There is no need to be riding Simmons into the ground at this point in the season.
There is no denying that Simmons is a top of the line athlete who can go out and log a ton of minutes for the 76ers on a nightly basis. He has shown early in his career that he is going to be a workhorse for this team, as evidenced by his career average of 34.0 minutes per game, but logging 42 minutes in a relatively meaningless November contest against the New York Knicks is a sign of overuse and poor management on the part of the 76ers.
The team added multiple players to improve the depth at the point guard position this past offeseason. Whether it is Josh Richardson stepping in and playing some point a few minutes each night or Raul Neto and Trey Burke receiving more consistent minutes on the floor, the 76ers are better equipped to mix it up at the point guard position. There is no excuse that the load can’t be taken off Simmons, at least this early in the season.
Simmons is clearly going to be a vital piece for Philadelphia as it looks to compete for a championship. Brown needs to make sure he does not overuse Simmons early in the regular season. How many minutes Simmons plays as well as any potential negative effects from the heavy amount of minutes he has played early this season should be monitored closely as the season progresses.