It’s been 262 days since Ben Simmons last played with the Philadelphia 76ers.
June 20, 2021 was the date for Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Simmons had 5 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds in 36 minutes of play.
It all culminated in his demise of a wide-opening dunk attempt with 3:29 left in the game and the Sixers down two.
Ben Simmons letting dunks pass now??pic.twitter.com/qovIypu2wZ
—ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 21, 2021
It was the visual representation of Simmons’ mental struggles turning into a final piece.
Since being drafted first overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, the only blow to his game has been his shooting.
He couldn’t (or wouldn’t) shoot jumpers consistently.
Although it’s rarely a problem in the regular season, playoff-caliber defenses have used this flaw against Philly.
Teams would play against him and overtake Joel Embiid, forcing countless turnovers and blocking the Sixers’ offense.
Yet, year after year, Simmons has seemingly refused to work to the detriment of his game.
Critics eventually exhausted it.
He shot 25-73 overall from the foul line in last year’s playoffs and became nearly unplayable.
After a long stalemate between Simmons and the 76ers, he was eventually shipped to Brooklyn as part of the James Harden deal.
Simmons received a lot of criticism and hate from the Philadelphia faithful.
But with him finally out of town, there’s no reason to continue the attacks.
The Sixers’ true suitors with Harden
As much as Sixers brass and players tried to make people believe, the Sixers were never really contenders with Simmons on the roster.
His inability to shoot the basketball has always made his pairing with Embiid tricky.
Even with three shooters surrounding them, offensive spacing struggled at times.
Being able to trade a non-shooter for Harden has made Philadelphia legitimate title contenders this year.
Since acquiring Harden, the Sixers are 5-1.
James Harden in 5 games with the Sixers:
7.6 Role play
— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 8, 2022
The lone loss came with Harden sitting out the second straight night against the East-leading Miami Heat.
Philly has scored at least 120 points in every game Harden has played with wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls.
While the Timberwolves and Bulls may not be strong defenses, the Cavaliers and Knicks rank first and eighth, respectively, in points allowed per game.
Tougher teams await, but early feedback is very encouraging.
Embiid finally has an elite teammate whose attacking game pairs well with his.
And the Sixers in general have a player who can create his own shot in record time.
Fan criticism of Simmons was justified to some extent.
But continuing to hate Simmons when he brought Harden back is pointless.
It’s time to move on to bigger and better things.
Don’t Help Simmons’ Grievance Case
PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck reported Tuesday that Simmons and his team will be set to file a formal grievance against the 76ers in the coming days.
And Simmons and Klutch Sports Group hope the fan reaction on Thursday will lay the groundwork for the grievance.
A grievance from Ben Simmons and his representation is set to be filed soon, with the reception he faces in Thursday’s Sixers-Nets game serving as a potential part of their case to recoup the money he’s lost in fines this season . Story: https://t.co/kT9D1x0P5N
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) March 8, 2022
The Sixers fined Simmons more than $20 million for missing practices, games and other team activities.
Simmons hopes to recoup that money by showing that the negativity displayed by fans is Exhibit A of why he couldn’t fulfill his contractual obligations.
Any Philadelphia fans in the arena on Thursday will want to boo Simmons in Brooklyn.
But that will only help Simmons and hurt the franchise.
If Philadelphia fans really want revenge on Simmons, they’ll ignore it on Thursday.