Ben Simmons is under a ton of criticism after his putrid performances during the second round of the NBA playoffs this year. The 3-time All-Star shot the worst free throw percentage in history when he only nailed 34.2% of his shots at the stripe. Most importantly, he showed a complete lack of confidence in himself on offense and it greatly affected Philadelphia's chances at making the Eastern Conference Finals.
It is no wonder why the majority of pundits believe that Philadelphia should trade Ben Simmons for a player who can be an offensive threat next to superstar center Joel Embiid. Unfortunately for the 76ers, Ben Simmons' trade value might have plummeted after his postseason performances. That greatly limits the quality of stars the 76ers can acquire in exchange for the former Rookie of the Year.
Of course, Philadelphia might have passed up a golden opportunity to create the best duo in the NBA when they opted not to include Ben Simmons in a deal for James Harden. Instead, Philadelphia has to fork out over $34 million over each of the next 4 years. For an offensive liability, this could be a problem for the 76ers.
Two players that perfectly fit the mold in Philadelphia are Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal. Lillard averaged 28.8 PPG for the Trail Blazers this season while making his 6th All-Star Team. After Stephen Curry, there is no doubt Damian Lillard is the best point guard in the NBA. Beal carried a very poor Washington Wizards team to the playoffs by averaging 31.3 PPG during the regular season. Both stars are exactly what Philadelphia need alongside Joel Embiid to dominate offensively.
But both stars are unrealistic targets even with matching salaries. Ben Simmons is not a wanted commodity as he was at the start of the season, and it is almost certain neither the Portland Trail Blazers nor Washington Wizards would trade their offensive superstars for a player who passes up open dunks in the postseason.
With Philadelphia's options limited, here are the only 3 stars that can be acquired in exchange for Ben Simmons.
Andrew Wiggins - Golden State Warriors
Andrew Wiggins is a stout defender who is athletic enough to handle most guards and forwards in the league. He averaged 18.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG this season for Golden State while being their primary defender in the absence of Klay Thompson. Andrew Wiggins doesn't have the playmaking or rebounding ability of Ben Simmons, but he can be a solid perimeter defender who is a much better offensive player.
A lineup with Seth Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Tobias Harris, and Joel Embiid is only missing a capable point guard. Expect Shake Milton or Tyrese Maxey to fill that void left by Ben Simmons. For Golden State, they will have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA with Simmons joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and James Wiseman next year.
Simmons is barely 2 years younger (24) than Wiggins (26) so the dropoff won't be too large. Philadelphia might not want to risk having Simmons on the bench during crunch time anymore and decide that a far more consistent (73.1% free throw percentage) Andrew Wiggins is a better two-way player for them.
Collin Sexton And Larry Nance Jr - Cleveland Cavaliers
Collin Sexton surprised a lot of people with his play this season. The explosive guard averaged a career-high 24.3 PPG while nailing 37.1% of his threes. Sexton didn't make the All-Star Team, but he almost did. Collin Sexton is capable of going off for 40 points with ease, and he has this killer instinct about him as well. For Philadelphia, Sexton would have been a dream come true for them this offseason.
Sexton won't impact the game defensively like Simmons because of his size and lack of talent on that end, but he can legitimately lead the 76ers in scoring if Doc Rivers needs him to. A trio of Sexton, Harris, and Embiid would be very tough to handle and they would have no problems closing games. Even the addition of Larry Nance Jr gives Philadelphia a big man who can run the floor and nail the open three (36.0% this season).
Cleveland get their new franchise star with this deal. They will forever be looking for their replacement for LeBron James, and even with his flaws, Ben Simmons might be the closest thing to him right now in terms of all-around impact. The Cavaliers will be in rebuild mode for a long time and Ben Simmons could be the catalyst for that.
CJ McCollum - Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers will very likely undergo massive roster changes this offseason. Head coach Terry Stotts is out, while there are big questions on whether key players such as Jusuf Nurkic will return. Either way, Portland must do whatever it takes to keep superstar Damian Lillard happy. Even though Philadelphia fans want Damian Lillard alongside Joel Embiid, they might have to settle for his backcourt partner CJ McCollum.
McCollum is a fantastic scorer, averaging 23.1 PPG for Portland this year. He doesn't need a ton of possessions to get going and is a clutch finisher in big games. Philadelphia needed a guy like McCollum to stop the bleeding when players were going cold and missing free throws. An acquisition of McCollum gives Philadelphia a very good Big Three. McCollum won't defend like Simmons, but his impact could be better.
For Portland, they finally get a defensive star alongside Lillard. Lillard and McCollum struggled to stop any of the top players in the NBA on defense, and many critics felt that they should have been split up years ago. With Simmons playing a forward position and Lillard handling the ball, we could be looking at a very dynamic duo in Portland.