Recap of the 2020-2021 76ers Season
Before we dive into hypotheticals, let us recap what went down throughout the 2020-2021 season. The 76ers finished the regular season 49-23, clinching the number one seed in the playoffs. In the first round, Philly matched up with the eighth-seeded Washington Wizards. The Wizards were not much more than a bug on Philidelphia’s windshield, handled in a swift five-game series, four games to one.
Up next, the Sixers faced the Atlanta Hawks. What a series it proved to be, with Philly being bounced in a seven-game series by the Hawks, and began the unraveling of this 76ers core, and possibly Ben Simmons’ career.
So begins the rollercoaster of an offseason, with the speculative eyes of NBA fans the world over on Ben Simmons, and his future in the league. Does he report to training camp, or does he get traded? If so, where to? Who do they get in return? These questions have been asked thousands of times all over social media. One of the various scenarios that have been suggested is a swap of Ben Simmons and Zion Williamson. Is it plausible? Is it logical? I’ll do my best to answer these questions.
The Simple Answer
No. On both counts.
Why? Trading for Zion Williamson would effectively drain a contender of its depth and would set the franchise back in the long run. The 76ers are in a great spot right now, despite Simmons’ shortcomings this season. With up-and-coming young buck Tyrese Maxey on his rise to stardom, Daryl Morey would be a fool to move him in any package involving Simmons.
From New Orleans’ perspective, it would enrage their fanbase, who rallied around Williamson as the new face of the franchise. In the short term, it would stunt the young team, who has already lost Lonzo Ball this off-season. to mention that it would have huge consequences for them. Trading away a star, especially one who has been the most hyped-up player since LeBron James, would tell prospective players to steer clear of NOLA.
Ben Simmons: Theory Becomes Reality
Let’s say it happens. Simmons to New Orleans. Zion to Philly. Who/What goes with them? Simmons has baggage. A lot of it. For starters, his jump shot is incredibly broken, and it has reduced his confidence to a point where he will pass up on a shot in a clutch situation. The latest reports say he has refused to meet with any of his teammates, despite them trying their best to reach him. Simmons is also refusing to report to training camp.
In this hypothetical, what would the optimal trade package look like?
|Philidelphia Receives||New Orleans Receives|
|Zion Williamson||Ben Simmons|
|Brandon Ingram||Seth Curry|
|2022 Second Round Pick||Tyrese Maxey|
|2023 Second Round Pick||2022 First Round Pick|
|2024 First Round Pick|
As mentioned above, ANY trade package involving Simmons will drain the 76ers roster. Curry and Maxey would fit right in with a new look Pelicans roster, and fill in any offensive gaps left behind by Williamson and Ingram. The first-round picks would act as insurance and recovery of a pick trading Zion away. Is it steep? Absolutely. Is it necessary? Absolutely. If Simmons’ shot is proven to be unfixable, then those picks would be retroactively seen as a great move on New Orleans’ part.
Ben Simmons has been as dramatic as one can be this offseason. If that behavior continues with whoever lands him, it may not last long. Shutting out teammates is as concerning as it gets from a locker room perspective. A trade package with him headlining it would be a very, very risky investment. I just can’t see New Orleans making that kind of investment shortly.