No other team in the NBA had a more disappointing playoffs than the Philadelphia 76ers.
And a new championship-caliber coach was brought aboard in Doc Rivers.
The 76ers earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference behind an MVP-caliber season from Embiid.
But after cruising through the first round, the wheels fell off.
Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks took them to seven games, pulling off the upset in Game 7 on the 76ers home court.
There was plenty of blame to go around, but much of it belonged to Simmons.
"I don't know the answer to that right now."
-Doc Rivers after being asked if Ben Simmons could be a point guard on a championship team. pic.twitter.com/rw51V7rkRE
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2021
His inability and/or reluctance to shoot the basketball on offense was criticized by all, including Embiid and Rivers.
It has led to a tumultuous offseason in Philly with everybody wondering when, not if, Simmons will be traded.
While Simmons still being on the roster is the most glaring issue facing the 76ers for the 2021-22 season, it is not the only issue.
3. When Will Simmons Be Moved?
Simmons still being on the roster is the most talked-about problem regarding the 76ers.
Even after four professional seasons, he still has not corrected the biggest flaw in his game.
Ben Simmons still cannot shoot jumpers, much less three-pointers.
It has been talked about since he was drafted in 2016.
Pairing a non-shooting point guard with a dominant center like Embiid has led to a tricky on-court fit.
If the remaining three players cannot space the court, Embiid and Simmons are nearly unplayable come playoff time.
It has been proven that those two cannot win together in the postseason and the 76ers cannot afford to let another year of Embiid’s prime go to waste.
While the on-court fit is one thing, the off-court fit has now become a problem as well.
As mentioned before, Simmons’ reluctance to shoot jumpers in the playoffs was criticized by everybody.
Most notably, his own coach and superstar teammate.
After the Hawks took down the 76ers in the second round, Rivers and Embiid had some choice words about Simmons’ blunders.
When asked if he believes Simmons could be a point guard on a championship team, Rivers replied “I don’t even know the answer to that right now.”
Embiid was also quoted as saying “I’ll be honest, I thought the turning point was when we…had an open shot and we made one free throw, and we missed the other and then they came down and scored”.
This was clearly in regards to the open layup Simmons passed up.
— Ralph Wiggum (@RalphWStats) June 21, 2021
If Simmons is still on the roster when the season starts, it will be interesting to see how the team functions.
2. Is Doc Rivers The Right Coach?
While much of the blame deservedly went to Simmons, Rivers was not great either.
His 10-man rotation in the regular season was not adjusted come playoff time.
Utilizing a team’s depth works in the regular season as it keeps guys fresh and game-ready.
But once the games really matter, most coaches will shorten their rotations.
This is to ensure stars are on the court for as much time as possible and only the best bench players get playing time.
Game after game, the Philadelphia starters would finish as a positive in terms of plus/minus.
And the bench would finish as a negative.
+/- of the Sixers starters compared to the Hawks starters, hmmmm interesting pic.twitter.com/4cB1saJsjR
— Dav3_LastOfUs (@casamato21) June 6, 2021
Even with Embiid’s conditioning level, the star player has to go more than 41 minutes in a crucial Game 7.
The 76ers starting five was one of the best five-man units in the entire league last year.
Rolling out all-bench or bench-heavy lineups in playoff games is inexcusable as an NBA head coach.
Rivers will need to be better next year to get the most out of this team.
1. Do 76ers Have Enough Shooting?
If Simmons is traded, this becomes less of an issue.
But with Ben still on the team as of now, it is a valid question.
Morey did well to bring back the top three shooters from last year’s team.
Georges Niang was also brought in as a stretch-big to provide backup minutes as the power forward and center positions.
But will it be enough?
All of the above players are either good shooters from deep or project to be around league-average.
But none of them are also go-to scoring options.
They mainly rely on other players to create open looks for them, sans Maxey.
Tyrese Maxey has shined for the Philadelphia 76ers during NBA Summer League, and he is determined to take the next step in his development as a sophomore.
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Every single day, [I] find a way to get 1% better.” https://t.co/EmczGNen2L
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) August 14, 2021
Regular season Simmons is good enough to do so but that all changes come playoff time.
Philly has enough shooting around Simmons and Embiid to have another great regular season.
However, they’ll need to add more self-creating shooters to have a great postseason.