Just a few years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers were overflowing with talent and promise. For 55 games in the 2018-19 season, the franchise had a roster that included Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, and JJ Redick. Had the crew been given more time to grow and gel, they might've made some significant ground in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, the Sixers shook things up that summer, letting Jimmy Butler walk for nothing in a move that is still widely criticized today.
Since that moment, the Sixers have been embroiled in disappointment and controversy, most revolving around Ben Simmons, who apparently feels that the franchise has not done enough to maximize his skill set.
Speaking on Simmons, and his fractured relationship with the entire team, Joel Embiid had a lot to say, including shooting down the notion that the Sixers haven't been catering to Simmons all these years.
I saw it. I’m not sure if it came from him or whatever, but over the past few months stuff that’s been put out there and looking back, the reaction of him not being here, I feel like it’s fair to assume that it’s coming [from him] — whether it’s his agent or his people or whatever. Like I said, it is disappointing, but I feel like over the years the way our team has been built around [us]. You look at last year, you’ve got the whole starting lineup, I was the worst three-point shooter in the starting lineup and I shot 38 percent from three. We’ve always had shooters and I feel like I can really play with anybody, and I can make anybody be better on the court. I don’t necessarily need shooters, but I feel like over the years, you look at when we signed Al [Horford], it’s because we needed a stretch five, just to make sure that was for [Simmons].
Embiid continued with his rant, going so far as to blame Ben for the Jimmy Butler trade.
Most of my career I’ve had to step out to the three-point line, which I don’t mind. I like to be a basketball player. I like to do everything on the basketball court, but I feel like our teams have been built — whether it’s the shooting needed, a stretch five — I feel like he’s always had it here — and we still have it. You’ve got Seth, one of the best three-point shooters ever, Danny Green, Tobias [Harris] is a 40 percent shooter for his career, Furkan [Korkmaz] coming off the bench, at times, Shake [Milton], I think he can be a better shooter but he can get hot. We just added Georges [Niang]. So I feel like our teams have always been built around his needs. It’s kind of surprising to see, for him to say that. Even going back to the reason we signed Al … we got rid of Jimmy [Butler] which I still think it was a mistake … [Simmons] needed the ball in his hands. That’s the decision they made. Like I said, it is surprising, but I’m really focused on the guys that are here.
Embiid, a 4x All-Star, is considered the future of the franchise, and for good reason. With career averages of 24.8 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game on 48% shooting, he is among the best players in the game.
Unfortunately, he has been caught up in this whole ordeal, and until the Sixers figure out how to handle it, they aren't going to get very far.