The Philadelphia 76ers are in a bit of trouble as they are in a 3-2 deficit to the Atlanta Hawks. The 76ers held a massive 26-point lead at one point in Game 5 against Atlanta but blew the game with a chance to finish off the series. Looking at what happened, it is clear that Philadelphia are suffering from the same problems every year.
Joel Embiid is arguably the most dominant center in the NBA right now, and GM Daryl Morey did a fantastic job surrounding him with shooters such as Seth Curry and Danny Green. But their second-best player, Ben Simmons, is not the offensive threat they need to get to that next level. Simmons is a dominant defender and playmaker, but he struggles to make an impact from the perimeter and free-throw line in critical situations.
Of course, James Harden was on the trading block this season and rumors included a potential Simmons for Harden swamp. The deal was not done, even though Harden was a key target for Morey, and that could be a problem that Philly could live to never forget.
Philadelphia Rate Ben Simmons Too Highly
James Harden forced his way out of Houston this year, and there were multiple teams in the running for The Beard's signature. Harden is by far the best shooting guard in the world, and he was having another solid season for the Rockets despite looking out of shape to start the year. Harden averaged 24.8 PPG and 10.4 APG despite never playing with any passion. When motivated, he's easily a top-5 player in the NBA.
Philadelphia greatly value Ben Simmons, who probably should've won the Defensive Player of the Year Award if Rudy Gobert didn't help the Jazz grab the #1 seed in the NBA. But Simmons does not impact the game like James Harden. He only averaged 0.1 attempts from three and shot 61.3% from the free-throw line, making him a liability in crunch time. That means Simmons is often on the bench in critical moments leaving Joel Embiid to fend for himself which is unfortunate.
A player of Harden's talent comes around once in a generation. Instead of dangling Simmons and giving away their franchise star, they don't have the best guard in the NBA to pair with Joel Embiid.
Kobe And Shaq 2.0: A Chance To Pair Joel Embiid With The Best Isolation Player In The NBA
If Harden is on the roster, the Philadelphia 76ers have the best duo in the NBA. They would usurp Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, and possibly LeBron James and Anthony Davis who both spent the season injured. With the best duo in the NBA and shooters around them, Philadelphia would've been the favorite for the NBA title.
That shows the impact of James Harden, a top-5 player in the world and the best isolation star right now. Embiid was having an MVP season averaging 28.5 PPG and 10.6 RPG, and he would be allowed to dominate by James Harden. Harden is an unselfish player who likes his big man to eat and doesn't mind giving lobs and easy passes around the rim.
But when Embiid is double-teamed or even dealing with his never-ending list of injuries, Harden can take over. He averaged 24.6 PPG and 10.6 APG for the entire season, showcasing his talents as a star. He can get points on the board better than Simmons ever could, and that would give Philadelphia a much better chance of playing in the Finals.
Without Harden, the Philadelphia 76ers are at risk of losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the second round which would probably cause some roster changes. Unfortunately, any changes they make won't result in the acquisition of James Harden, a chance they didn't take earlier on in the season.