Ben Simmons arrived in the NBA in 2016 with the potential to be one of the league’s next transcendent stars, but in recent years the former No. 1 overall pick hasn’t shown the ability to take the next step.
As a result, this offseason has been highlighted by talk of Simmons’ stint with the Philadelphia 76ers coming to a close. The three-time All-Star has said he won’t report to training camp next week and intends on never playing another game for the franchise. The Sixers have explored trade offers for their point guard, but have asked for a hefty package in return, so no deal has come to fruition.
Many NBA fans and analysts have blamed Simmons’ lack of desire to get better for the crumbling of his relationship with the organization. However, Gilbert Arenas thinks the bulk of the blame actually lies with the 76ers.
The former NBA point guard questioned why Philadelphia’s coaching staff insisted on using Simmons the way they have on offense.
“You’re talking about a guy who’s 6′ 11″, can get to the basket anytime he wants. He’s the point guard that’s coming downhill, long, can jump,” Arenas said on his show recently. “So really, he’s unguardable if his mentality was just ‘I’m going to go out and score 40.’
“So when you’re doing post-up plays, where he’s passing into [Joel] Embiid, my thing was with Doc [Rivers], what f—ing plays are you running when he’s in? … The fact that you’re not smart enough to say, ‘Hey, Ben Simmons, just drive. Just go score’… The fact that you’re not actually using him, like the fact that you’re not Greek-the-Freaking this dude, tells me another story too.”
Gilbert Arenas on Ben Simmons. I've been saying this, let him play like giannis.
— David Portillo (@D_Portillo_0) September 23, 2021
Arenas is implying that the 76ers should’ve used Simmons in a system like the one the Milwaukee Bucks have developed for Giannis Antetokounmpo. He also has a point that the former No. 1 overall pick has had to defer to Emibiid, rather than play in the style best suited for him.
However, comparing Simmons and Antetokounmpo is a dangerous game. Giannis is fresh off winning Finals MVP and has shown a far more aggressive mentality than the 76ers point guard.
Simmons may be able to find a system better tailored to his unique length and ability to get out in transition, but until he shows a willingness to improve his perimeter game and shows confidence in big moments, NBA fans will be waiting for him to reach his full potential.