The Ben Simmons conundrum has puzzled the Philadelphia 76ers organization and NBA fans alike. A six-foot ten, 240-pound point guard, the Australian prodigy has a physique and strength of LeBron James and the basketball IQ and passing ability of James and Magic Johnson. When he debuted in his redshirt rookie season in the 2017-18 season, Simmons displayed he was ready to rule the NBA.
But here we are in year three. Unfortunately, Simmons’s same impressions that the consensus had his first season is the same with the restart of the NBA: strong finisher, more of a passer, great defender. While Simmons has a lot of mouths to feed on his team, he hasn’t taken the next step to rise to the top of the NBA crop. For example, not even attempting to equip a shot.
With the 76ers chances of winning with this core on the line, the 76ers are in drastic times. So head coach Brett Brown has chosen to make a radical move, shifting Simmons to the power forward position.
On paper, the move is ideal for the 76ers moving forward. It gives them an advantage over other teams as there is no tape of Simmons not playing point guard. Therefore, they can experiment and tinker with their star playing a new position as they may.
It also allows the 76ers to utilize Simmons in a Draymond Green-esque role. When the Golden State Warriors were in their dynasty era, Green was used as a screen-and-roll weapon in the half-court. On the same token, he was a matchup nightmare on the fastbreak. Green’s ability to defend, rebound then sprint past big men became catastrophic to the NBA. This element to Green’s game also translated to the NBA embracing small ball and more pace-and-space. Simmons is a younger, taller version of Green. Just imagine the damage he could do at power forward?
If teams attempt to utilize small-ball tactics, he could easily overpower players trying to guard him in transition. If teams attempt to play big on big, his court vision and quickness on the perimeter could easily pick big men apart.
The only downfall to it all is, can he co-exist with Joel Embiid as frontcourt members? It is well-known that Embiid and Simmons have not been on the same page for a while. But for a good reason.
Simmons flourishes better in an open court, surrounded by shooters and small ball. Embiid does better as a classic center, who happens to stretch the floor. When he’s the focal point, as he is with the 76ers, he is extremely productive. The issue has been that the clash of styles has hindered the 76ers over the years. But a move to the 4 for Simmons should help Embiid, too.
In the end, this move all goes back to how Simmons will approach it. Simmons has all the makings and tools to be an all-time talent. His blend of size, strength, and skill has made him an intriguing player. As we all know, he is not someone who wants to shoot. At the 4, he can play his style without so much expectation to expand his game. His second gear of transition scoring and playmaking will cover his lack of shooting.
Hopefully, with the NBA scheduled to restart, Simmons can help parlay this move into success for his 76ers.