By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
When Daryl Morey was introduced as a member of the Sixers’ organization on Monday, his excitement to work with Joel Embiid was very clear. On the same note, there wasn’t as much talk about the team’s other All-Star Ben Simmons.
Now Morey and head coach Doc Rivers seem intent on running with the Sixers’ current core, but the trade rumors are already starting to swirl. James Harden has been the first of what will likely be many names the Sixers are tied to in potential trades moving forward.
It is no secret that the new front office regime is going to do their best to upgrade the Sixers and get them in a position of contention. The key to doing that should be working on un-tapping Ben Simmons, not trading him.
Simmons is coming off a season where he was an All-Star and received All-NBA honors. The sky is still the limit for him at just 24 years old. If anyone can put together the kind of roster to get the most out of Simmons’ skill-set, it’s Daryl Morey. Analytics plays a large role in Morey’s decision making, and Ben Simmons is the perfect type of player for “Morey ball.”
Last season we saw a Houston Rockets team that specifically focused on taking shots only from three or around the rim. If Morey plans to bring any form of this style of play to Philly, Ben Simmons should thrive.
Despite not taking three-point shots in games, Simmons has been elite at creating three-point opportunities for the players around him. Since his NBA debut, Simmons has been at the top of the league in assists on three-pointers.
In 57 games last year, Simmons assisted on 228 total three-pointers, coming to about four made threes a game. Despite the Sixers being one of the weaker three-point shooting teams in the league, Simmons was still among the best in creating them.
Along with his ability to create shots for others, Simmons is also one of the best players in the league in the open floor. At his size and speed, when he gets going in transition, there aren’t many players who can stop him.
Morey and Rivers have both talked about how they want to utilize Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid more moving forward, and Morey’s emphasis on three-point shooting should do that. Adding a plethora of floor-spacers around the two superstars would do wonders for them and the team’s offense as a whole.
Before his injury in the bubble, Simmons was just scratching the surface of his expanding his game in a new position. With the potential of him as point-forward still unknown, it would be foolish to consider dealing him away.
Ben Simmons is an elite-level defender and playmaker who is still closing in on his prime years. Trading him now for a high-level star is a move that could haunt them for years if the front office decided to do it.
In the right system, Simmons will continue to show why he is a premier young talent in this league. With Doc Rivers talking about implementing a faster pace and Morey’s focus on outside shooting, Simmons and Embiid should both thrive this year.