All is the best it’s been in Sixer land for months. I mean the team has won six of eight games, the depth players led by Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz are playing as their ideal selves and Ben Simmons, as enigmatic a star player as we’ve seen in recent memory, is playing the best basketball of his career.
But what if I told you this stretch was a complete indictment on everything that’s wrong with this organization.
Did you notice a name missing from the players I said leading the charge of the Sixers recent hot streak? No not Tobias Harris who has been virtually the same and no not even Al Horford who has been at best a modest disappoint this season coming over from Boston.
No, the player missing was Joel Embiid.
Before Sixers fans get in a tizzy, this isn’t your usual Sixer hate piece that says Embiid is out of shape (although…) or that Simmons can’t shoot, but rather a piece that simply says, they don’t fit together.
I mean this isn’t rocket science, one guy is at his best posting up big men while the other is best going downhill driving into open space and kicking to shooters. Those two things fundamentally can’t exist together effectively.
Take for example Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love who made a 20/20-night look like an off night.
Once Love was traded to Cleveland and paired with LeBron, another player who is at his best driving down hill and either scoring or passing like Simmons, Love went from the block to the corner. He wasn’t a worse player and the same can be said for Chris Bosh who experienced something similar in Miami.
The problem for Love and Bosh was simple, evolve or dissolve.
Now most people are going to take this to mean go stand in the corner Joel but what I mean is that Bosh and Love’s games could also be as a three-point weapon and although they weren’t at their best, they still were elite. Embiid meanwhile is the best post player we’ve seen in probably twenty years, forcing him to the corner does him a complete disservice. If Love or Bosh shot an open three you were more surprised when it didn’t go in than if it did whereas when Embiid hoists one up, everyone going against him collectively sighs in relief.
Embiid is arguably the most talented player in the NBA but for his talent to fully shine, he needs to be surrounded by plus shooters. The same exact thing can be said for Simmons as he’s proven when surrounded by those players this past 7 games, he’s averaging career numbers across the board.
Now we all know Philly is probably going to flame out at some point in the eastern conference playoffs and fire Brett Brown because of course it is after all his fault he can’t solve this.
That’s the issue though, when two guys need the same exact thing and the answer can’t be each other, it literally isn’t solvable.
So Brown will take the fall and they’ll run it back one more time and the year will be 2021 and then finally, mercifully Elton Brand an co. will acknowledge the obvious.
Here’s the scary thing with that for Sixers fans:
Harris will be 29 and making $36,000,000 with three years left (ouch) and Horford will be 35 and set to make 27,000,000 a season. What are the odds either of those players live up to those numbers?
Let’s start with zero and work our way backwards.
The time is quite simply now for Philly and you know what, I’m not sure who I’d keep. Both are generational talents with skills unlike anyone else in basketball but yet both hold fundamental major flaws (Embiid’s health and Simmons jumper).
One thing is clear, Elton Brand is about to face the toughest decision in pro-basketball in maybe the last twenty years. Good news though, there’s a timer going that with each passing day makes it harder for them to reach their championship dreams.
All I have to say is good luck Sixer fans and hey, trust the process.