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Even The Top Sixers reporter thinks “It’s fair to be disappointed in what Ben Simmons has done this season”

As most people know, I’ve been very hard on Ben Simmons. 

Here’s the truth. I don’t hate Ben. I think he’s a ridiculously gifted athletic freak and a lock down defender, even if he’s not the best defensive player in the NBA. That’s Rudy Gobert. Or even the best defender on this team. That’s Matisse Thybulle. 

As an aside, people argue that Simmons can guard 1-5 and all Gobert does is stand under the basket. But look at that stat. THAT is why Rudy is DOPY because no one changes the way a team plays on offense more than him, including Ben. 

Anyway, Simmons is 100% a player with insane court awareness. He can do amazing things on a basketball court, like holding red-hot Trae Fucking Young to 3-14 from the field.

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But even while I know that Sixer fans are delusional, it still stuns me that they have an impossible time recognizing that despite everything he brings to a team, he has glaring weaknesses that make it very, very hard for this team to win a title- as currently constructed they are a “flawed basketball team” with “flawed players”. 

And I know Philly fans will say, “Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about” and “old news, we hear about it all the time.” 

Well, guess what? There’s a reason this narrative refuses to go away. And ignoring these weaknesses will not fix the problem that as good as Ben is on defense? He is a massive offensive liability. And by massive we mean Hoover Dam sized problem for the Sixers, and it gets worse in the playoffs, with the quality of play he faces. 

Ben Simmons won’t shoot. That’s different than saying he can’t shoot. He can.

He just chooses not to, and it hurts his team. And that’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.

I interviewed Rich Hofmann for the latest episode of This League. For those who don’t know, he’s the lead Sixers writer for the Athletic and the son of legendary Philadelphia sportswriter and editor Rich Hofmann Sr. No one follows the Sixers more closely or is better connected to all things Philadelphia basketball than Rich. 

And guess what? He thinks the same things about Ben Simmons that I do. He said the same things about Ben’s game I’ve been saying all year. And yes, he doesn’t say it in quite the same way as I do (LOL) but the truth is, we’re pretty much on the same page. Ben is great. Ben is talented. But Ben is getting dusted by his peers because of his inability to expand his game. Others like Tatum are getting better and adding things to their game, and he is basically the same old Ben he’s been for three years. In some ways, he’s actually regressing. Cough Cough free throws. In the words of Dave Portnoy, “Ben hasn’t done dick”. 

Let’s look at a few things Rich had to say about Ben.

Even in a game where he had a superb defensive performance like Game 2 against the Hawks, Rich said, Ben “didn’t look at the rim after the first four minutes of the game.” He ended up with four points. Then Rich had this to say:

”If you look at a lack of a jumper [from Ben], even the lack of getting to the basket as much as he probably should. I think it’s fair to be disappointed in what he has done this season” 

Keep in mind this is the runner-up defensive player of the year, who is in the mind of Rich and others, a disappointment. He further noted:

“You look at his peers around the league and these guys keep adding to their game. Like Jayson Tatum and I’m sure there are other guys too. But Ben if you look at his basketball reference page it’s the same thing every year. It’s 15-16 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds”

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He’s going to have to do more in a half court offense. At some point teams are going to make him into a scorer and he’s going to have to a little bit more. I don’t think it’s impossible. But its certainly harder when he’s so inconsistent.

He thinks if he is standing around, floating around that nobody will notice and he’s not harming his team. But if he’s standing there floating their spacing is totally screwed up. 

To say that Ben’s lack of spacing isn’t a little bit of an impediment you are overlooking a pretty obvious thing there” 

Disappointing. Inconsistent. Its the same thing every year. An impediment. A spacing issue. These are not my words, folks. They’re the words of probably the most knowledgeable Sixers writer in the world. 

What’s the future hold for Ben? Maybe a different team. The Sixers tried to trade him once before for Harden but Tilman Fertitta nixed it at the last moment because he hates Daryl Morey. Some delusional Sixer fans still deny this but Rich on his own confirmed this deal was 100% in the works:

“They did try and trade him for James Harden this year. That is 100% out there. Ben knew it. A Bunch of people knew it. 

And you know what? Rich confirmed that Ben is not the prototypical Daryl Morey guard and that if Ben has a bad series this year, he’s probably gone. 

“If Ben struggles in these playoffs, I think you’re gonna get your answer on what Daryl Morey thinks about him. Maybe Not via Twitter like he likes to use but via what moves he makes in the offseason. If Ben has another disappointing series like say the Toronto series I’d be surprised if there aren’t some conversations like ‘do we need to pull the plug on this?""

Rich was an awesome interview. We talked about whether the Sixers are concerned about the recent Embiid injury and his general injury struggles, Doc Rivers and why he protects Ben whenever someone is critical and a ton more. 

If you prefer to watch versus listen on Apple/Spotify, link is here