Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons played a destructive role in their second-round loss to Atlanta Hawks. Simmons averaged just 9.9 points per game in the series, the lowest for any playoff series he played in. In addition, Simmons was a liability on the free-throw line. As a fact, his 34.3 percent on the line for the playoffs is the lowest in NBA playoff history (min. 70 attempts).
An underwhelming performance by Simmons casts doubt over his future with the 76ers. Philadelphia was well aware throughout the season about his offensive limits. Simmons enjoyed strong support throughout from head coach Doc Rivers. However, even Rivers was harsh on Simmons in Game 7 post-game conference.
The first sign of trouble could’ve been sensed in Game 4 against the Washington Wizards. Simmons got fouled three times in the closing phase of the game, which the Wizards won 122-114. Simmons made three out of six attempted free throws, aiding Washington’s surge to the victory.
Danny Green played in just three out of seven games against the Hawks. His postseason was cut short due to a right calf strain which he aggravated in Game 3. Green himself had to overcome shooting struggles and harsh criticism from fans and media. According to Green, Simmons doesn’t like to step outside of his comfort zone on the court and do things he’s not doing well.
“Off the court with his family things back home, and he doesn’t necessarily discuss it with us in private, but I knew he was going through a lot. He had some things going on during the season. It might have come all at once during this time, but you can tell, Ben’s the type of kid if he’s not encouraged, and he’s not pushed or forced to do it. He’s not the type to take that risk.
Obviously, he’s a high IQ guy. You can tell, he gets a lot of assists and pushing the pace and he gets paid to do what he does, because he’s so good at it, but he doesn’t step outside that box because he knows well enough ‘I’m good at this. I don’t need to step out. It’s not like I’m encouraged to do this, or I’m kind of afraid to do this kind to do this type of thing.”Danny Green on Ben Simmons
While Simmons’s offensive limits are quite problematic, he’s still a proven defender and one of the league’s best playmakers. For those reasons, the Sixers could re-establish their hope in the 24-year-old point guard. However, if they decide to move on from Simmons, he’ll be a desired player around the league.
“I think they need encouragement and some type of push to do that to not be scared to fail at trying something new because he’s one of those guys ‘I know what I’m good at and I don’t need to do anything else and when the things that he’s doing that he’s good at isn’t working as well even though he played defense as well as he could for us and gave us dynamic of assists in the ball, and finding guys and pushing the pace,” Green said.
“We did need him to attack the rim and be more aggressive, but he felt like he was not getting his touch right, and also the free-throw line, it kind of crept on him mentally to where he wasn’t able to get the rhythm you wanted.”
“At the same time, he still fought, he showed up, he still played, he still worked hard, he still tried to give us his best chance for us to win with doing what he does with screening, rolling, rebounding, defending, and he did to the highest capability could. Just offensively, he wasn’t the Ben Simmons we needed him to be at the time.”Danny Green
Rich Paul announced yesterday that Ben Simmons wouldn’t participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Simmons won’t represent Australia, stating that he needs time off to focus on his individual development. The upcoming offseason will be crucial for both Simmons and the Sixers. Philadelphia looks to contend for the NBA Championship while Joel Embiid plays the best basketball of his career. Whether or not Simmons will be a part of it, he certainly needs to strengthen the weaknesses that haunted him throughout the 2021 playoffs.