The Glooming Dark Cloud Over the Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers have one the most passionate yet complicated fan bases in the NBA. They have the Dr. J era Sixers fans who were hyper-critical of A.I. for not winning a championship, there are the Sixers fans that rooted for other teams when A.I. left only to come back after they won 52 games in 2017, and then there are the fans who stayed loyal during the brutal process years.
Now that Philly has proven to be one of the NBA's elite teams and the annual excitement in anticipation of the NBA draft lottery is in their rearview mirror, there are new debates to indulge in. The latest debate is, can they win together and if not, who are you trading, Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid?
If the Sixers are debating trading one of their young stars, I'd listen to the Houston Rockets' offer of Ben Simmons, picks, and role players for James Harden. The man is in his prime, averaging 37 points, 11 assists, and five rebounds a game this season. Yes, it's a very small sample size being that he only played in three games this year, but if you look at his overall career and numbers, he's accomplished more than Simmons ever will offensively. A one-two punch of Harden-Embiid is far greater than Simons-Embiid. Harden would give Philly that firepower to finally get over the hump and compete with Boston, Milwaukee, Brooklyn, and Miami.
If Philly feels Houston is asking for an overwhelming haul of players and picks for Harden, it could be too early in their careers to split up the young duo because neither of them has reached their prime. In five NBA seasons, Embiid has averaged 24.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. He's already established himself as one of the best centers in the NBA, and his game isn't even close to being polished yet. Simmons receives tons of criticism for his inability to shoot from the outside, but he does seemingly everything else at an elite level. He's averaging 16.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game in his young career. He's a 6'10 freight train with Magic Johnson-like court vision who's capable and willing to lock down the opposing star, which the 76ers will value come playoff time and potentially matching up with Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.
Simmons and Embiid only played together for four years, and they've won 50+ games for the first time in 30 years while also reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. With the addition of a championship head coach in Doc Rivers and championship-caliber players like Danny Green and Dwight Howard, along with the right combination of vets and young guns, Philly has set themselves up for a potentially long playoff run.