Among the discussions and beats for determining the NBA's best duos, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem noticeably absent from the conversations. After having helped lead the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, and putting on a dominant display of their talent in the meantime, you would think they would be considered among the best tandems in the league.
But, for as good as they are, their games are flawed. During an appearance on ESPN on Tuesday, NBA analyst and former basketball star Charles Barkley gave his brutally honest take on the pair of players, urging someone within the organization to confront them about the issues.
(via ESPN's Get Up!)
“It’s going to come down to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. At some point, them two young players, who are both terrific young players. I want to repeat that. Two terrific young players.
But Joel Embiid has got to get his fat butt in shape, and Ben Simmons has got to work on his game.
When I got to Philadelphia in 1984, the most important person in my life, basketball-wise, said to me ‘you fat and you lazy.’ And I said ‘what do you mean?’
Moses Malone said ‘you fat and you lazy.’ He made me lose 50 pounds, and the rest is history. I wonder, in Philadelphia, who has the courage and the chutzpa to tell Joel Embiid ‘yo man, you’ve got to get in shape.’ I wonder if they have that person on the team, or the person who has to tell Ben Simmons ‘yo man, we just gave you $170 million dollars. Please go work on your jump shot.'”
For both players, none of these "flaws" are a mystery to anyone. Embiid missed two full seasons before making his NBA debut and has dealt with myriads of injuries since. It is hard to monitor and control how your body heals and holds up on the court, but one has to think slimming down would solve some of those issues for the 25-year-old big man.
As for Simmons, his shooting woes have become somewhat of a running joke for the community. But his failure to make shots past a couple of feet is really costing the offensive performance of his team. With JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler gone, those problems will only intensify unless Simmons can develop at least a semblance of a jump shot.
This next season will be the start of a new opportunity for the Sixers. Without LeBron James or Kawhi, the East has never been so wide-open. It will be up to Simmons and Embiid to prove they have what it takes to get the Sixers back on the map.