The Ben Simmons Dilemma (Ft. Portland)

Hugh Baldwin

If you follow the National Basketball Association (NBA), you probably know about the ongoing drama destined to top Netflix’s ‘Top 10’ in 4 years after a documentary is made on it: What is going on with Ben Simmons?

*This article was written on Sept. 28, before any possible trades have been made.

What the heck is going on?

After a disappointing end to the postseason for Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers, trade talks rumored before this postseason were amplified, to the max. Multiple teams have come up as potential landing spots for the 6’10” LSU product, but it sure has taken a while for 76ers GM Daryl Morey to take a bite at any offers, even as Simmons has made it clear he doesn’t want to spend a minute more in a 76ers jersey. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons “intends to never play another game” with the 76ers, and has made it apparent that he is willing to pay the literal price, through fines that are allowed by the NBA when a player does not attend their team’s training camp, practices, and/or games (though I am definitely not going into the specifics of how they work).

“Ben Simmons’ [trade] value is at an all-time low right now, and tensions between him and the Sixers organization [are] incredibly high,” NBA intellectual Grant B. ‘24 stated. “Since preseason is right around the corner and there is still no word of a possible trade taking place, I am starting to believe that Simmons may be forced to play in Philly next year just so he can collect his game checks.” It is certainly hard to say now, but we could very well see Simmons, once again, in a 76ers jersey, and surely it would be awkward for everyone.

Why Simmons should come to Portland

Ever since the search for a new home began for the disgruntled socialite, only a handful of teams have been deemed viable destinations, and the Portland Trail Blazers just so happen to be on that list. And for good reason.

After finishing 29th out of 30 teams in Defensive Rating in 2020-21, offseason priority no. 1 for the organization was clearly to amp-up the defense. They made arguably mediocre changes to stay true to their word, adding new head coach Chauncey Billups and trading for the defensive-minded forward Larry Nance Jr., as well as getting rid of the lackluster Carmelo Anthony-Enes Kanter defensive tandem that even I could score on. The starting lineup, however, has had no changes, and many followers of the Trail Blazers believe that should change, especially with an opportunity of a lifetime, right there, for a small market team to take. This is where Ben Simmons comes in.

The 2nd place finisher for Defensive Player of The Year (DPOY), and league leader in Steals Per Game (SPG) a year ago, Simmons is arguably the most versatile defender in the NBA, and is also one of the best passers in the league—currently 9th in Career Assist Percentage (AST%) among active players. For a team that finished dead last in assists, Simmons could massively improve ball movement within the Trail Blazers’ offense, not to mention the monumental defensive improvement Simmons would also provide. For Portland, this trade (at least in my opinion) is one you cannot pass up.

Then, there is the other side of the deal, in which Portland has to give up a big enough contract to match Simmons’ $31.6 million he is set to earn this season. Most sources say that Portland’s CJ McCollum plus future draft picks would be the base of the trade for Simmons, and there is reason to believe that deal could happen. Philadelphia has been on the lookout for a secondary scorer to complement their franchise cornerstone Joel Embiid, and McCollum might just be the best option, with little to no superstar scorers available on the market.

McCollum, though without an All-Star appearance to his name, has been regarded as one of the best shooters and shot-creators in the league, and has earned the title of ‘Best Fringe All-Star’ for the past several years. In spite of the fact that he does not have jaw-dropping numbers, one should consider that he plays alongside one of the league’s best scorers, Damian Lillard. One could say that McCollum would have better numbers without Lillard on the floor, which has proven true. Over 33 total career games played without Lillard on the floor, McCollum has averaged 28.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, compared to 21.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists over the last 6 years (with and without Lillard). If a deal were made sending McCollum to Philadelphia, he would have even more space to work with (assuming Joel Embiid primarily plays in the post) and could put up All-Star numbers for the first time in his career. For Philadelphia, they could potentially have their best perimeter scorer since Allen Iverson, and raise their ceiling come playoff time.

Overall, the trade for Ben Simmons makes the most sense for both teams. Philadelphia has to find a good enough replacement for their 3 time All-Star, but with limited options, McCollum might be their best bet. For Portland, they could finally pair their franchise player, Damian Lillard, with an All-Star for the first time in over half a decade. Of course, the outlook could change with slight changes to the proposed trade, but nonetheless, I think a deal should be made.

Final Thoughs…

What do you think? Where will Ben Simmons’ drama lead him to? Do you think Portland should make the move for him? Create a Dig Account and share your thoughts down below!

Sources:

https://www.nba.com

https://www.basketball-reference.com/

https://www.statmuse.com/nba/ask/mccollum-stats-without-lillard Image credit: https://www.cleveland.com/cavs/2021/09/whats-the-deal-with-ben-simmons-cavs-playing-three-7-footers-hey-terry.html