It was a forgettable end to the season for the 76ers, falling to the rising Hawks and failing to reach the Eastern Conference finals.Guard/forward Ben Simmons especially came under fire from fans and the media for a subpar offensive showing, and will undoubtedly again be the subject of trade rumors this offseason.
“Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates,” Simmons said. “There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”
While Simmons remains one of the league’s premier defenders and a strong facilitator, his shooting woes have become a major concern. He went just 15-of-45 on free throws in the seven-game series vs. the Hawks. For the playoffs, he shot 34.2 percent from the line — the worst in postseason history for players with at least 70 attempts.
This led to Simmons not attacking or being aggressive in the fourth quarter, seemingly out of fear he might get fouled and have to shoot free throws. Without saying any names, Sixers center Joel Embiid more or less called out Simmons.
“Man, I will be honest. I thought the turning point was, you know, when we, I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and they came down and scored,” Embiid said.
Strong perimeter shooting has obviously been coveted by Sixers head of basketball operations Daryl Morey, whose old Rockets teams fired up 3-pointers at a rapid rate.
While Simmons is a fine player and upstanding citizen, the Sixers may have to make a trade to get better — and they won’t be dealing Embiid.
When asked if Simmons is a point guard who can lead the Sixers to a championship, coach Doc Rivers told reporters: “I don’t know that question or the answer to that right now.”
Simmons was involved in trade rumors last offseason, and fair or not, he’s undoubtedly headed there again. This time, though, they may seem a little more real.
Simmons, for his part, said he’d prefer to stay.
“Yeah, I love being in Philly. I love this organization,” he told reporters. “The fans are great people. I had a bad series. I expect that (boos). It’s Philly.”