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A look at why the 76ers’ current problems were five years in the making

Ben Simmons Joel Embiid
Photo: Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers are currently going through a messy divorce with point guard Ben Simmons and this departure is already beginning to have a negative effect on the team’s results in the 2021/2022 season. Fans will be at a loss for words at how quickly this relationship has unraveled and yes, the current standoff between Simmons and the 76ers has become farcical, but it is the actions of the Australian point guard that borders on the inexcusable when you weigh up the damage it is doing to the 76ers’ chances of making the playoffs. 

Indeed, with every passing loss, the 76ers are looking less and less likely to win their first NBA Championship since 1983. Fans are uncertain about the times ahead, and so too are the industry experts. In recent weeks, journalists have surmised that Simmons has moved to train at a new, separate facility and have defined his relationship with the 76ers as a “stand-off”. All is not well and the odds certainly back that up. FOX bet, one of the best Pennsylvania online sports betting sites, has priced the 76ers at staggering odds of +2200 to win the NBA championship. At best, it’s looking hopeful and at worst downright impossible, but how has it come to this point when the 76ers looked so dangerous last season? 

In short, Simmons is demanding to be traded out of Philadelphia, but given how much his value has dropped over the last few months, the 76ers are short of options in terms of finding a replacement that will match the 25-year-old’s on-court abilities. You could look at the current situation and think that it has soured at an alarming speed, given that the 76ers drafted Simmons as their number one pick in 2016, but in essence, the team’s problems have been five years in the making. 

Basically, for all of Simmons’ superstar potential at point guard back in 2016, he did have a few elements of his game that needed to be worked on. At the top of that list were his poor shooting and his inability to successfully complete three-pointers. Keep in mind that Simmons was compared to LeBron James when he first arrived on the scene but has only managed to record five three-pointers in his NBA career whilst James has registered 2,011. In other words, despite there of course being an 11-year gap between the two, the point stands, Simmons was, and is, still underperforming. 

However, even with these obvious shortcomings, the 76ers management set about building a team around Simmons in 2016 which involved hiring, firing, and trading in order to suit the 25-year-old strengths (having the ball in his hands). Eventually, Simmons’ lack of personal development finally came to a head in the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks in 2021 when he refused to make an open dunk in case he was fouled, which would have resulted in him having to free-throw for the points. The long and short of is that Simmons had a meltdown when he decided not to take the shot, which prompted the 76ers’ players and management to finally turn on the 25-year-old. You can understand their anger given that the team moved heaven and earth to accommodate Simmons only for him to pass up the opportunity to help the team win.  It was a decision that would ultimately make him an outcast.

Unsurprisingly, Simmons took umbrage to the post-game remarks made by Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers, in particular, and fast-forward to the present day, this is why the 76ers are looking a shadow of the team that they were last season when they finished on top of the Eastern Conference. Indeed, Simmons has refused to play ever since and the Philadelphia 76ers are in the process of having to start from scratch again after sacrificing five years for one player who no longer wants to be part of the team. 

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