While the entire NBA has turned into a war zone with superstars flipping teams and those looking to rebuild burying themselves in a bunker for the next few years, one team that has somehow withstood the nuclear warfare has been the Philadelphia 76ers.
After spending the last few years as the punchline of every joke that has the word “process” in it, The Process is finally something that looks like it can be trusted. The only problem is, no one expected what would be the difference between trusting it and seeing it actually unfold in front of them. If the Sixers are going to go from a movement to a force, it’s going to have to be Ben Simmons to take the team to the next level.
To be fair, no one really knew what the end was for The Process. No one even really knew if the Sixers would ever get to a point where it was really even in contention to get to that point. It just gave something the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers never gave fans during their years of mediocrity of failure- a catch phrase to drunkenly scream.
Now, the team is primed and ready to at least be competitive this season for the first time since Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala roamed through the City of Brotherly Love. You could pick a number of different ways on how this team is expected to take the next step, but from the sounds of it, Ben Simmons is ready to lift the team on his shoulders and to take that step himself.
Ben Simmons has his sights set on something higher than Rookie of the Year. pic.twitter.com/TCo1C62h9D
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 29, 2017
That’s the kind of sh-t you hear someone say when they’re a freshman in college and they think they’re way too cool to hang out with high schoolers anymore. Still, since Simmons is inviting the pressure, it should be on him now.
In a strange way, he’s the prime candidate to take the Sixers to the next level. Joel Embiid embodies The Process, and almost is The Process. He has welcomed the movement with open arms, and fits the personality of someone you want as your team’s primary player. The only problem is, his knees don’t fit that of a primary player considering he’s only played 31 games in the three years since he was drafted.
He also doesn’t fit the position as someone who’s the prototype of the team’s main player as centers are a dying breed in the NBA, no matter how skilled and freakishly athletic he is. Plus, he’s already calling on Simmons to take out the Big Baller trash that just entered the league.
Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.. https://t.co/cMvt5RYiSQ
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 22, 2017
That leaves it between Simmons and Fultz, with the edge slightly going to Simmons. Fultz has already welcomed the pressure at set high goals for himself since he came out of college, but Simmons is the player who hasn’t reached those lofty expectations he set himself. After he was selected first overall, he went down with an injury, listened to his agent, and sat out for a year. Now it’s time for Benny to step up and live up to the hype, even though it’s still technically his rookie season.
Besides, it’s a point guard league now. According to Simmons himself, Fultz isn’t the point guard.
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 10, 2017
Look if the man is going to keep two hand shoving everyone out of his way, you have to at least let him have the chance to back it up.
It’s been a while since Simmons was in a meaningful game, but let’s not forget how big of a star we all thought he could be. There’s a reason the 2016 class was considered a one-man draft and it’s because Simmons has shown time and time again that he’s a baaaaaad man.
(via IG/bensimmons) pic.twitter.com/h1XVvPzmpJ
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) June 25, 2017
That’s the kind of stuff you expect to see out of a 6’10 phenom who is barely old enough to booze and is taking on the entire league like he has some sort of death wish. What you don’t expect to see is his ability to play the point guard. We don’t know just how well Simmons is going to match up on defense since he has yet to play the NBA superstars across the league, but we do know that boy is going to be a problem on offense.
HOW DOES BEN SIMMONS MAKE THIS PASS? https://t.co/Ux6cHSriXQ
— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50) July 10, 2016
Ben Simmons one hand putback slam vs Warriors https://t.co/pxkps1lwWj
— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) July 13, 2016
— NBA Summer League (@NBASummerLeague) July 16, 2016
If you want to ignore the fact that Simmons has the biggest chip on his shoulder or the fact that he’s in the best position out of the core of the Sixers to lead them to their highest win total in years, fine. Just look at the plays he makes when he’s on the court. Anytime you have a player who’s the best athlete on the court who can also stretch the floor and make any pass imaginable, you can consider him your chosen one. The dude is a walking highlight reel.
That has to be the main reason why it’s on Simmons. Sure, he’s good for a SportsCenter Top 10 play anytime he opens his eyes and makes it out onto the court, but can he actually be a winner. He was billed as the next big thing when he was in LSU, yet he couldn’t even lead his team to 20 wins or a tournament berth.
It’s time to acknowledge the fact that hype and highlights aren’t enough, just like Simmons has. The Sixers are aiming to be the best in the league in the future, so it’s appropriate that Simmons has similar personal goals. Once he reaches his, Philadelphia will reach theirs.