On a Tuesday morning episode of First Take, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith stated that Ben Simmons would prevent the 76ers from winning a championship.
"Ben Simmons, to me, is going to cost the Philadelphia 76ers a title. All because he has no shooting ability. If you’re a guy, you’re the Shaquille O’Neal’s of the world or others, where you [...] require participation with somebody giving you the basketball, OK, that’s a bit different. When you are the primary ball-handler, when you run the offense, when you’re the point guard, and you are no threat from the perimeter at all, to the point where you don’t even attempt shots from the perimeter, that’s a problem." Stephen A. Smith, via SixersWire
This statement comes from the tenured commentator in reaction to the 76ers' Monday night loss to the Washington Wizards. It was the fourth game in the best-of-seven series between the two teams. Washington employed a strategy in which they repeatedly fouled Simmons, forcing the Sixers' guard to shoot free throws.
Simmons made only five of 11 shots from the line for the game. The Wizards went on to win with a final score of 114-122—game five tips off on Wednesday night.
Ben Simmons This Season
It was the standard season for Ben Simmons in 2021. While he hit career-lows in multiple offensive figures, he remained one of the NBA's top defensive players. His elite two-way play granted him his third straight all-star selection and helped lead the 76ers to the top of the Eastern Conference.
For his efforts, Simmons was named a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award. The former first overall pick in 2016, Ben Simmons, is one of the more unorthodox stars in the NBA today. However, his impact on the game remains distinctly clear.
In this series against Washington, Simmons averages 13.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. Marc Stein reported on Wednesday afternoon that Joel Embiid is down with a slight tear in his right knee. He is out for game five and will be day-to-day for the time being.
With Embiid out, Simmons will be expected to step up offensively. Philadelphia will advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs with another victory over Washington. We will see how the young star and his 76ers will fare moving forward.