Quijano: Simmons, a pariah in today’s NBA

When Ben Simmons arrived in the league in 2016, a plethora of superlatives were all you could hear.

And why not? He was pegged as the next big superstar, a 6’11’’ phenom with great court vision who could handle the ball like a point guard and rebound like a power forward. His potential had teams drooling.

The fact that he couldn’t shoot was a bit of a caveat. But no matter, he was still young and he had more than enough time to develop his shot.

ALL STAR. Initially, Ben lived up to that promise. He was the Rookie of the Year. He became an All-star for three consecutive years. He was the NBA Steals leader in 2020 and made the All-Defensive First team for two years.

But even as he amassed those accolades, his team the Philadelphia 76ers failed to advance to the NBA Finals. Expectations were high because he was the other half of a power duo—the other half being a monster of a center in Joel Embiid.

They were expected to dominate the league and even as the team tried to recruit complementary pieces around them, they faltered. Problem is much of the faltering was on Ben’s part and most of it came from his inexplicable failure to improve his outside shooting. And things ratcheted up a bit in last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals when he became tentative on the offense and botched a crucial play that had Embiid fuming.

TRADE. Fast forward to 2021 and how the narrative has radically changed. As of this writing, news comes out that his relationship with his team had deteriorated to a point where he just wants to be traded and doesn’t care which team.

He is reportedly also prepared to sit it out rather than play and with the 76ers running out of time to engage in a lucrative trade offer, options are getting fewer by the day.

HARDENESQUE. The problem is that general manager Daryl Morey reportedly wants a “Hardenesque” package for their All-Star point guard, but that may not be feasible at this point in time.

The Brooklyn Nets gave up several choice picks for James Harden, but teams are balking if Simmons might be worth all that they are giving up. What a difference five years can make and I can’t blame them. Simmons’ problem isn’t just that he can’t shoot. He just won’t.

Simmons has all the physical tools in order to improve his craft. When he shoots, his form doesn’t even look too shoddy. We have all seen those viral videos online of him shooting from afar during the off season.

His problem is not a mechanical or technical issue about his shooting form. It’s all mental. He thinks he can’t make it and so he misfires every time.

That flaw is an expensive one, to the tune of $170 million over five years.

Circa 2000, he could easily have been one of the top three players—in an NBA era where outside shooting wasn’t the norm.

In today’s NBA league, he is a pariah. His career may still be salvageable, but he might not be able to command the same amount of attention and money moving forward.

LAST ROUND. It’s on my bro, Atty. Ramsey Quijano, who celebrates his birthday today. Enjoy your day and cheers, bro!