The Sixers Will Never Win With Ben Simmons At Point Guard

As a proud card-carrying member of the Ben Simmons Fan Club, seeing Ben Simmons have a career first quarter and monster night made me more convinced as to what kind of player he is and in which situations he will thrive in. 

Ben Simmons is a GREAT … center. 

Strike that. He’s a very good center. Or a 1990s versatile power forward that happens to be playing in the modern NBA, a shooters league. He can play make, he has great court vision and elite passing skills, is athletic and can handle the rock pretty well for his size. 

I do not hate Ben Simmons. I’m on record multiple times saying that there are many things about his game that are unique and special for a guy his size. See above. 

But Ben Simmons is not an elite point guard. I don’t know why people want to fight over this singular fact, but here we are. Ben Simmons can be an elite player, a cornerstone piece for a franchise, maybe even the missing piece to win a championship, and at same time, still be a liability on the floor at point guard. 

In fact, he can be one of the major reasons the Sixers CAN’T win a championship while he is playing out of position. 

Let’s get into it, because I know you’re champing at the bit.

I hate Ben Simmons as a point guard. I would literally take mediocre and less gifted players as my point guard over Ben Simmons because of what is required for that position. That was the point of my original tweet that got the mob up in arms. 

And you know what? Even though he had 42, 9 and 12, my opinion has not changed. In fact, this game verifies EVERYTHING I’ve been saying about Ben Simmons on THIS LEAGUE.  

So let’s break down his best game ever last night against the Jazz.

First of all, the problem with dancing on people’s graves early, is you better make sure the body is dead before you break out those moves.

He had an incredible first quarter. With Embiid out, Doc Rivers decided to play Ben Simmons at center. He had 19 points in the first quarter alone mainly against a lockdown defensive player (2x DPOY) in Rudy Gobert. Surprisingly, after the game, Simmons felt that putting Gobert on him was somehow disrespectful even though that was Doc Rivers' plan all along. 

But in a wild twist, Doc decided NOT to have Simmons try and defend Gobert, but to spend time rotating off a number of players who could hurt the Sixers offensively, including as usual, guards. Don’t listen to the Blockheads on Twitter who claim to have watched the game, but show no actual knowledge or proof of what went on. They will claim Simmons spent all of his time locking down Donovan Mitchell (who shot 9/21 from the field) but that is a myth, that is fiction. 

Simmons defended Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and Joe Ingles, ALONG with Bogdanovic, Gobert, O’neale, Favors, and Niang. As I said, dude is VERSATILE. Not many players can defend everyone on the court. Kudos to Ben. That shit is impressive. 

But let’s dig into the numbers to find out how he did defensively and how much time he spent on whom. 

With Ben Simmons as a primary defender against guards last night, here’s some stats:

Donovan Mitchell: 

4:50, 7 PTS (3/6, 1/3, 0/0) 2 AST, 0 TOV, Jazz scored 34 total points

Joe Ingles:

0:55, 4 PTS (2/2, 0/0, 0/0), 1 AST, 0 TOV, Jazz scored 16 total points

Jordan Clarkson:

0:47, 9 PTS (2/2, 2/2, 3/3), Jazz scored 17 total points

In total:

6:33, 20 PTS (7/10, 3/5, 3/3), 3 AST, 0 TOV, Jazz scored 67 total points

THIS IS DAMNING. He got cooked this much in a half of a quarter of play? 

And then guarding between Bogdanovic, Gobert, O’neale, Favors, and Niang:

6:38, 3 PTS, (1/3, 1/2, 0/0), 0 AST, 1 TOV, Jazz scored 37 total points

To break this down, Utah’s guards shot 70% from the field against Ben Simmons, and an astounding 60% from three point range, against the man who considers himself the best defender in the league.

We went over the list of the teams that beat the Sixers this year with both Embiid and Simmons in the line up: Cavaliers, Nets, Hawks, Nuggets, Blazers, and Suns

What do all these teams have in common? Solid guard play. Sexland. Harden & Kyrie. Spider and Clarkson, Book and CP3, Dame and Gary Trent Jr. (no C.J. even), and Trae Young. The Sixers have big problems against teams that can score from the backcourt. And clearly, Simmons’ defense is not enough to offset good guard play and his offensive limitations. 

This is my point in a nutshell. Stop trying to make “Ben Simmons is a guard” happen. It’s not going to happen. And if you think last night was a fluke, brought on by Embiid’s absence? 

It’s not. 

When he’s matched up against guards in his entire career? They shoot a STAGGERING 42% against him from THREE Point range. Which seems impossible. He's at least 6 inches taller than the guards he’s defending and they’re still just cooking him. Shooters AS A WHOLE only shoot 2.5% lower than the league average against him. 

Whether you like it or not, this is a 3 point shooter’s league now, and it’s guard-driven. You are doing the Sixers AND Ben Simmons a huge disservice by playing him out of position because you’re essentially playing a second shortstop (from a batting standpoint) at first base. You wouldn’t accept 10 home runs and 68 RBI from your full-time first basemen unless you’re the Chicago Cubs in the 1990s. And you should not accept 1 of 9 from beyond 15 feet for the SEASON from your starting point guard, which was Simmons’ stat line heading into Utah last night. 

And maybe we should add this point. Ben still has trouble showing up when it matters, even on a career night. He is not the guy you can rely on to get a bucket when you have 5 minutes or less left in the game, let alone in the final seconds. I promise Doc Rivers is never drawing up a play down 3 with 2.7 seconds on the clock for Ben Simmons, your starting point guard. This means, he either has to sit, or you’re playing with four offensive threats with the game on the line. 

All of that, for your “point guard” making $36 million a year. There is only so much money to go around folks and what you’d expect for a franchise point guard making top 3 money in the league is someone you can go to with the game on the line. The other two players making that type of money are Dame and Steph, and they’ve got that in spades. Damian Lillard shoots 53% with 4 or less seconds on the shot clock for his career and he also leads the league in clutch points since 2012. THIS is what I want from a point guard I pay that much money to.  

So am I guilty of trolling Sixers fans? Yeah. A little bit. They’re so gettable. So easy to rile up. Do I think he’s REALLY a bum? No. Not at all. Do I value shooting more than defense when Simmons cannot shoot from outside the restricted area and cannot defend his own position anywhere near as well as people say? Yessir.   

But I promise you, I have no hate in my heart for them or Ben. I mean, how can you not like a guy whose sister has such amazing clap backs? 

BTW, even Olivia Simmons, Ben's sister admits Ben is not a guard. In a recent Undefeated Article, she said: 

"I always say I’m a forward, I’m like Ben, I was a forward that could dribble."

The cold hard reality is this, in a game where Ben Simmons had a CAREER night, not only did he come up short in crunchtime, more importantly he was playing center, not point guard. 

And yeah, he had some assists that I didn’t include in that graphic because, you know, trolling and all. But when you turn the ball over and miss your last five shots in a close game, you deserve a little ribbing, especially on your career night, where you lose.

If the Sixers are smart and move Ben Simmons to forward like the rest of the world not located in Pennsylvania would do, we have a WHOLE different argument on our hands. And with a real point guard that can shoot and play-make in Philly and Ben locking down forwards and distributing in the post and a healthy Embiid? You might just have a championship team on your hands. 

So until that happens, we’re just going to rinse, wash, repeat. I’ll keep bringing up the fact that Ben can’t shoot and he can’t defend other guards who can. And I’ll also bring up, that he downright refuses to get better at shooting the rock. Sixers fans will continue to drag me on every possible occasion, and call me a clown for doing nothing but stating facts. And of course, as currently constructed, when Philly loses in the playoffs? Be ready for my victory lap. 

You thought I was insufferable Monday night? Just wait until the Nets or Bucks beat the Sixers 4-1 in the conference finals and Ben Simmons gets torched by Harden and Kyrie and Joe Harris to the tune of 90 points. I’m going to be UNBEARABLE to levels you’ve never seen. 

If you really want to hate-listen, I talk more about Ben Simmons and give some more of my POV on this topic.