The number 1 overall pick from the 2016 NBA Draft has yet to play a regular-season game for his team. That player, of course, is Ben Simmons. After putting on lots of muscle and weight in a short amount of time, Simmons fractured his foot badly enough that it required surgery. Therefore, the Sixers would have to wait once again for their first round draft picks to begin their NBA careers. First Nerlens Noel. Then Joel Embiid. Now Ben Simmons. Luck seemed to have turned around when the Sixers acquired the 1st overall pick and Ben Simmons, but then he broke his foot. Trust the process, right?
Well, Trust the Process is actually exactly right. And when I say Trust the Process I am of course referring to Joel Embiid–the man who calls himself “The Process”. He has, by himself essentially, brought back a new confidence in the city of Philadelphia that has not been felt for years. While it will be great to have Ben Simmons back in action, he can take his time.
Now do not get me wrong. The Sixers and their fans (myself included) want Ben Simmons on the court and in uniform. He is a superstar in the making, and that type of talent wants to be seen. After the impressive summer league and college season he had, there is tons of excitement surrounding his name. When he comes back, the Sixers are going to be elevated to another level of play.
For the time being, however, let’s make the most of an unfortunate situation. While it is frustrating to have Simmons on the sidelines, there is some good that comes along with it. It is this ‘good’ that allows ownership and fans to say “take your time, Ben Simmons.” There is no need to rush him back or for him to come back before he’s ready.
Continue to trust The Process
Joel Embiid is finally playing and he is leading the way for the Philadelphia 76ers. While Simmons is expected to be a superstar, Embiid is quickly blossoming into a potential superstar himself. Beginning his career by averaging 18.7ppg, 7.4rpg, and 2.4bpg has alleviated the pressure from Ben Simmons’ shoulders. While Simmons is away, Embiid shall play. The big man from Kansas is the focal point of the team (when he plays) and with Simmons being unable to take any touches away from him, he is getting plenty of opportunities on offense. He is without question THE guy. He is playing as THE guy without another superstar on the team. He is leading the team to wins and close games without another big name talent on the floor. His confidence and level of play are rising at a rate that may not have been possible with Simmons on the court stealing some of the spotlights. When he comes back, he will be playing with a proven force that has experience and has already gone through various learning curves and growing pains. The two will be a dynamic duo sooner once Simmons returns because of the growth of Embiid.
It is not only Embiid that is benefitting. The entire Sixers team is learning to win without Ben Simmons. They are learning to rely on themselves and trust their own abilities. When there is a star player on the floor, it is easy to get into the mindset that they will take care of business and you can relax. The Sixers do not have that luxury a lot of the time. Embiid is only playing so many minutes in so many games which means everybody else is called upon to make plays game in and game out. As this occurs, their skills are getting better. When Simmons returns, he will be expected to make plays in clutch situations; however, he will not be the only player who can do so because of the experience the current players are receiving. It will make it very difficult for defenses to try and stop the Sixers in late game situations when there are two big players capable of making plays in Simmons and Embiid and the supporting cast are all capable of making a play as well. Relying on others can only get one so far. Relying on yourself can make a big difference.
Change is Coming
The Philadelphia 76ers are getting better as a team, and they are doing so without their franchise player in Ben Simmons. The way things are unfolding, it looks like they will have two franchise players. Simmons has proven that he can play with anybody and that his presence on the court makes others better. The Sixers will only improve with him being on the court; however, there is no need to rush him back. This is a down year with or without him. The most important thing is his long-term health. It would be great to have him play alongside Embiid for at least half this season in preparation for next season, but only if he is healthy.
I suspect to see Simmons fairly soon this season. When that happens, the excitement meter in Philadelphia is going to be off the charts. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both on the same court for the same team is going to be something else. They will be playing alongside a team that has built strong and necessary chemistry. All the Sixers need are a few more elements to make the perfect solution. It’s been said for years, but big things are coming in Philadelphia. Take your time, Ben Simmons. When you’re ready, the world will have to watch out.