The Sixers have finally managed to turn the page into a new chapter of their process. At approximately 7:37 PM EST on Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers selected Ben Simmons with the first overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Simmons, who was rated by most scouts and analysts as the best player in the draft, will come to a team in desperate need of a star. He has the ability to be just that, and potentially, even more.
Though his LSU team didn’t succeed much on the court last year, Simmons himself showcased his variety of skills. He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2 steals per game in his only college season. Simmons also had a jaw-dropping player efficiency rating of 29 while playing 34.9 minutes per game.
The weakest part of his game is his jump shot. In college he could get to the rim against anyone, so he rarely used his outside shot. He was bigger, faster, and stronger than most opposing players, so he truly never really needed to shoot. That’ll change very quickly in the NBA.
Not only will Simmons be playing against opponents of his own size, but many of them will also be just as talented. Early on in his career, Sixers opponents will beg him to shoot from the outside. They’ll guard him so that his easiest options are to shoot or to pass. He’s an excellent passer, but he should take as many in-game jumpers as possible in order to work on his deficiencies.
Though that part of his game needs work, his shooting form doesn’t look ‘broken’ and therefore shouldn’t be impossible to refine. What will separate him from being a ‘good’ player and a ‘great’ player will be how efficiently he can score from outside 15 feet.
Ben Simmons in a Sixers jersey is something Philadelphia fans have been truly longing for. After watching their team go 19-63 in 2013-14, 18-64 in 2014-15, and finally 10-72 last year, the fan-base needed a reward. Simmons will be that for them, but his arrival doesn’t mean the process is over.
The process was all about acquiring assets, right? Well, the Sixers still have a ton of opportunities to do that. Philadelphia owns the rights to the Lakers first round pick next year if it falls outside of the top-3. If not, that pick will convey unprotected in the 2018 NBA Draft. They also have the right to pick-swap with the Sacramento Kings next year, if the Kings’ pick is ahead of the Sixers’ selection. In 2019, the Sixers own the Kings’ first round pick also. There’s certainly a lot of talent acquisition left for GM Bryan Colangelo to do. In all likelihood, there’s still a lot of losing on the horizon for Philadelphia as well.
All the research that’s necessary to show this, can be found out west with the Minnesota Timberwolves. They traded for number one prospect Andrew Wiggins two years ago, and were bad enough to be awarded the first pick the following draft. Minnesota then selected Karl-Anthony Towns with that pick last year, and subsequently earned the fifth pick in this year’s draft. They selected Providence PG Kris Dunn at the five spot on Thursday.
The fact of the matter is that Ben Simmons doesn’t guarantee the Sixers anything. Sure, fans finally have someone healthy to point to and say, “That’s our future!” but that’s about it. Fans shouldn’t assume that the process is over. Instead, think of it as flipping the page into a brighter chapter of the long-enduring process. Philadelphia will likely have at least one top-10 pick next year, and probably will lose 60+ games for the fourth straight season.
Even Ben Simmons can’t put an end to Philadelphia’s process just yet.