Ben Simmons Saga Over in Philadelphia
It is officially done.
Ben Simmons has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks for Paul Millsap and James Harden.
The trade came after wild media speculation over whether or not disgruntled stars Harden and Simmons would be moved before Thursday’s deadline.
Early Thursday afternoon the news and chatter picked up and like a flash of lightning it was done, and so ended Ben Simmons' confusing and frustrating tenure in Philadelphia.
It all started back in 2016 when the Sixers, amid their massive rebuild, selected consensus number one overall pick, Ben Simmons, in that year's draft.
As a point-forward, Simmons received a lot of hype as “the next Lebron” and reflected the excitement in the 2016 summer league.
Simmons showed off his craftiness with the ball, his excellent court vision and even a bit of a mid-range jump shot. Little did Sixers’ fans and management know this was the most they would see their co-star for Joel Embiid shoot while playing in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, Simmons missed the entire 2016-2017 season due to a foot injury and would not begin his true NBA career until 2017.
To say Simmons did not have a great rookie season would be a massive understatement. He averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game on the way to becoming rookie of the year.
Despite not shooting the ball anywhere outside the paint and struggling from the free-throw line, the Sixers were hopeful Simmons would work on developing his jump shot and three-point shooting to better complement teammate Joel Embiid.
Everything was looking up for the Sixers after that 2017-2018 season. The team had made the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and had two young budding superstars.
Then came Jimmy Butler and the Kawhi shot.
When Lebron James decided to head west in the summer of 2018, Sixers’ management saw an opportunity in a now wide-open Eastern Conference. During the 2018-2019 regular season, the Sixers acquired stars Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to form their super team in the east.
The team looked like a finals contender, but Simmons especially fell into the background. This was very apparent in the game or shot that lives in Sixers’ fans' heads rent-free.
In game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Kawhi Leonard ended the Sixers season with a ridiculous buzzer-beating shot.
Simmons was noticeably invisible and the leader of that roster and pending free agent Jimmy Butler did not like that. In 42 minutes Ben Simmons shot the ball just five times finishing with 13 points.
That offseason, Butler hit the road for Miami, a crucial moment for Simmons and the Sixers.
Flash forward to last season and things were looking back up for Philadelphia. Ben Simmons was looking like the defensive player of the year for most of the regular season and the team was winning.
However, a second-round series against the Hawks changed everything and proved to be the tipping point for Simmons and the Sixers.
A Hawks team that many considered inferior in talent took the Sixers to game 7 of the series. The Sixers lost frustrating games after leading time and time again in the series with Simmons nowhere to be found.
In game 7 Simmons even passed up a wide-open dunk on the way to the Sixers crashing out of the playoffs yet again. Simmons shot just four times in the game and for the series shot an abysmal 33.3% from the free-throw line.
After the game, coach Doc Rivers and center Joel Embiid sounded fed up with Simmons.
Rivers said, “I don’t know the answer to that,” when asked if Ben Simmons could be a point guard on a championship-winning team.
Embiid said, “I’ll be honest, I thought the turning point was when we … I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just when we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other, and then they came down and scored,” referencing Simmons’ blunder in the fourth quarter.
From then on, Ben Simmons refused to be a part of anything for the Sixers. He asked for a trade and when that did not happen this past offseason, showed up to practice with his phone in his pocket showing minimal effort.
Rivers kicked him out of the practice and Simmons proceeded to sit out of games and take fines until now when he finally got his wish to be traded.
Sixers general manager Daryl Morey got his man James Harden back from his days in Houston and Simmons is getting his fresh start on a very talented Brooklyn team.
It was an odd tenure for an odd player in Philadelphia, but now all eyes will be on Simmons’ return when the Nets play the Sixers in Philly on Mar. 10.
Maclain Young is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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