06/12/2023

Photo - Matt Slocum/Associated Press

It seems increasingly more likely that Simmons will begin the 2021-22 NBA season in different colours; the question is, where would Simmons fit in best?

Ben Simmons has been one of the most talked about players of the 2021 NBA offseason. 

Simmons has found his name on the wrong side of the rumour mill for large parts of the summer, culminating in a report that he has cut off ties with the 76ers organisation, preparing himself with a fresh start in his fifth season in the league.

The fit with fellow star Joel Embiid has always been a questionable one, and considering their similar strengths and weaknesses, it seems these problems have become a hurdle too hard to overcome as the 76ers have engaged with many teams on a potential trade for the Australian.

On the heels of a disappointing playoff showing, it seems increasingly more likely that Simmons will begin the 2021-22 NBA season in different colours, the question is where would Simmons fit in best?

The 25-year-old presents a unique skill-set being a near seven-footer with the agility and vision of a legendary point guard. 

However the persistent problem for Simmons has always been his lack of and unwillingness to spread his scoring outside of the paint.

Simmons has almost played himself out of games at times with his lackluster shooting abilities. This came to the forefront of the NBA world during the playoffs as the Sixers were embarrassingly defeated by the underdog Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Looking statistically, Simmons posted up a respectable 11.9 points, 8.8 assists and 7.9 rebounds during last season’s playoffs, however his woeful off-ball movement and lack of spacing caused him to receive a large flack of the criticism from the NBA world.

It was taken as far as Philadelphia fans burning Simmons’ jersey on social media, firmly turning their back on the former first-overall draft pick in 2016.

Whilst the three-time all-star remains one of the league’s elite defenders – finishing second behind Rudy Gobert in the defensive player of the year voting, his clear struggles in offence have drastically reduced his value on the trade market and he may find himself as the star of a rebuilding team if the Sixers were to move on from him.

Where are the primary destinations for Simmons?

If the rumours are to be believed, the Minnesota Timberwolves seem to be the team most keen on taking a punt on Simmons. Their constant struggles at the bottom of the Western Conference have left superstar Karl-Anthony Towns and fans alike extremely frustrated with the mediocrity.

Minnesota has a bright young core with budding superstar Anthony Edwards alongside Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

The Wolves have been desperate for a pass-first point guard to feed Towns all the ball he needs. They thought they had found this in Russell and gave up some considerable assets to acquire the best friend of Towns, however it seems if they want to get Simmons they’ll likely have to give up Russell which could be the final blow that sees Towns request a trade.

Simmons in a system with Towns and Edwards seems like a perfect fit in theory, as he could sit in the paint as his fellow superstars spread the ball around the perimeter. 

Another huge benefit would be Simmons’ defensive abilities on a side that ranked 25th in defence last season. The Timberwolves aren’t shy of putting up scores nearing the 140s, but have become a huge defensive liability as a result, as the side struggled to identify their primary defender coming up against the superstars of the Western conference.

The biggest question that has to be asked here is, would Simmons give it his all in a struggling Timberwolves side that hardly gets national media attention in the USA? It’s a stark contrast to the sports crazy Pennsylvania, where Simmons has had the cameras on him from day one.

Would a move to a smaller market benefit Simmons as he could finally focus on his game and potentially work on including a jump shot to his game?

This is what makes the Timberwolves the most logical destination for Simmons, however given the steep asking price that has been reported the Sixers are demanding, it seems unlikely the Timberwolves will have the required assets to land Simmons.

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The other primary target that has been on the rumour mill as of late is a trade to the Golden State Warriors.

With a returning Klay Thompson, Golden State looks poised to make a genuine run at the NBA championship after a disappointing run last season that saw them miss the playoffs in the play-in game for the eighth seed.

Simmons would fit seamlessly into a Golden State system designed to have four shooters and a big ball handler. The current man for that role is their defensive anchor Draymond Green, who raises the biggest question mark for a Simmons trade.

Simmons in a lineup with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson carrying the offensive load could unlock his full potential driving to the rim and finding his shooters.

It seems that the Warriors officials aren’t too keen on having both Green and Simmons which makes this unlikely, however given Draymond’s advanced age and declining shooting abilities could the Warriors look to secure a younger and faster version of Green.

The teams with an outside chance

There are many teams stuck in the middle of the pack in either conference that could benefit from having a rejuvenated Simmon on their roster.

The first team that should be throwing their name in the hat has to be the Indiana Pacers. 

The Pacers have struggled to make a big leap in the Eastern conference since the departure of Paul George, stagnating as a solid playoff contender with a very strong line-up.

Indiana needs to make a move sooner rather than later if they want to keep up with the stacked teams on top of the East, and could well talk themselves into Simmons leading the line-up in 2021-22.

The Pacers can facilitate Simmons’ lack of shooting as they are stacked with quality shooters who can work off-ball as Simmons runs the offence.

The main questions that has to be asked here is if Simmons would be keen on taking his talents to Indianapolis, and if the Pacers are willing to part ways with key players including Malcolm Brogdon and or Myles Turner.

Out of all the outside chances, the Pacers feel the most likely as persistent rumours have been swirling around breaking up their star front-court duo of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.

This seems like Simmons’ best fit as he could easily slot himself into the Pacers system. With former championship coach Rick Carlisle joining up over the summer, it seems like a new coach and a new place could find Simmons back to his All-Star best level of play.

Finally the team that has had everyone talking, the Portland Trail Blazers.

The persistent rumours of superstar Damian Lillard’s unhappiness in Portland have seemed to cool down over the last couple of weeks, as he seems more committed than ever to the team that drafted him.

The only trade here that makes sense is a straight up swap for Lillard’s backcourt partner and best friend CJ McCollum. 

Similar to the Minnesota situation, a trade of the star’s best friend could be the final straw and could leave Portland’s hands tied as Lillard could request a trade.

The two main options for a Simmons trade surround their two best players: do they trade their franchise player for more assets and let Simmons run the show with a bunch of young faces, or risk trading McCollum and push all their chips in for a Simmons and Lillard back court duo?

Simmons’ fit here is very questionable as the Blazers have struggled to find big men who can stretch the floor. With current centre Jusuf Nurkic locked down on a monster deal, it seems unlikely they’ll be able to fit both him and Simmons together or manage to trade Nurkic in order to free up space for Simmons.

Portland seems the most unlikely, however could their desperation to remain competitive force them to take a wild gamble and acquire the Australian in a bid to make it out of the wildly competitive western conference?

It is becoming more and more likely that Simmons will not line up in Philadelphia for next season, consequently the question still remains at large, which team will take a chance on Ben Simmons?

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