During Philadelphia 76ers Media Day, it was apparent that Ben Simmons' Philadelphia 76ers teammates miss him as a "brother". But as Tobias Harris said today, they are simply exhausted from talking about the enigmatic Philadelphia 76ers star. Training camp begins tomorrow, September 28th, and what's also apparent is that Ben Simmons will not be in attendance. Joel Embiid in particular seemed almost sad at the thought of Simmons not playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, yet when it's all said and done, that is exactly what may be happening in Philly. But it may not happen either.
What if Ben Simmons decides to play for the Philadelphia 76ers?
This doesn't seem likely and the Philadelphia 76ers have to know so. I think Ben Simmons didn't want the team to fly him out because he didn't want to deal with seeing them physically or emotionally. Time spent with teammates in pro sports matters because the time spent is a lot, and his Philadelphia 76ers teammates would have been really convincing - especially Joel Embiid and Danny Green.
The MVP candidate knows he won't have his Robin for at least the foreseeable future, and if that's the case much will change on the floor for the Philadelphia 76ers. Defenses will sag on Embiid - not because Ben Simmons was an excellent shooter, but because floor spacing won't be as fluid without a 6'10" point guard running the show and over-extending defenses who have to account for Simmons' dribble drives and kicks. Embiid said he would shoot more threes if it helped his team, yet as Doc Rivers said today, Ben Simmons creates more three-point opportunities than any player in the NBA. How will this work?
The Sixers will have to account for Ben Simmons' contributions in offense and defense. With that in mind, here's three ways the Philadelphia 76ers can line up without him.
#3 Tyrese Maxey to the point guard rescue
This season will be very interesting regarding what role Tyrese Maxey will play. He dominated the NBA Summer League, and if you remember, his role was expanded in the playoffs when the Philadelphia 76ers needed instant scoring. At 6'3" Maxey is able to either shoot over defenders with his tremendous athleticism, or blow by him like he wants to do. This season, he will have to man the point just enough to keep defenses off balance. No, he will not be a full-time point guard, yet in spurts Tyrese Maxey will most definitely surprise with the expanded opportunity.
#2 Matisse Thybulle gets starter minutes
Doc Rivers will face a major dilemma if Ben Simmons doesn't return. His bench rotation will have to be adjusted, and between Maxey and Thybulle getting more burn, someone on the bench will have to step up. Matisse Thybulle, like Ben Simmons, is arguably one of the best defenders in the NBA. His instincts get him to the ball, and with long arms he's able to deflect, back tap, block and contest shots in an all-defensive kind of way.
#3 Enter Paul Reed
I can't help it. Paul Reed is such an exciting player and Philadelphia 76ers fans know full well what I speak of. With the shortning of the bench, there's no way Paul Reed doesn't get any time on the floor as a backup 4 next to Embiid or backup minutes in general. BBall Paul is a secret weapon the Philadelphia 76ers need to use more often. He had a nice showing in the NBA Summer League and his confidence to start the season must be very high.
The Philadelphia 76ers seemed a little shocked that they're in this position. That's understandable given this soap opera is as unique an issue in pro sports as they come. Defensively, the Philadelphia 76ers will have to use Matisse Thybulle in multiple ways to make up for Ben Simmons' defense, and as great as Ben Simmons is, Thybulle might be better.
The excitement factor will be missing with Simmons gone. All those fast-breaking dunks and putback slams off missed jumpers and layups will be no more. There's an opportunity here for someone to step up and fill the point guard and dunker's spot void. Who will it be?