We all know by now that Ben Simmons has one serious flaw.
His lack of a jump shot is an issue and will continue to be until he can hit enough to force defenses to respect it. It’s been a point of frustration for Sixers fan over the last two playoff runs.
With that said, it is a no-brainer for the Sixers to give Simmons the rookie max extension that NBC Sports Philadelphia has confirmed the two sides are working toward.
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The most important thing to think about through all of this is age. He’s 22 — he’ll be 23 next month — and has already earned a Rookie of the Year award and an All-Star appearance. Sure, the progress with his jumper is discouraging, but think about some of the things we’ve seen him do.
Simmons’ best NBA game was against the Warriors, a 26-point, eight-rebound, six-assist performance in a road win over the defending champs. One of his best playoff performances was against Toronto, the reigning champs, in Game 6, an elimination game in which he had 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He also proved his mettle as a tough and versatile defender that could have All-Defensive Team potential in that series against the Raptors.
One of the concerns fans may have is timing. The Sixers could’ve let the season play out and have Simmons become a restricted free agent next summer, meaning they'd have the right of first refusal. Part of it is peace of mind for Simmons. He can play the season without that potential extension looming over him. It’s also peace of mind for the team. They know the cap situation and won’t have to answer constant questions about “why they don’t believe in Simmons” or something to that effect.
While you could certainly match any offer Simmons will get as a restricted free agent, it’s just a super dangerous game to play. The Sixers are going to be right up against it for the foreseeable future with Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Al Horford all locked in. Another team can have Simmons sign an offer sheet that’s for a shorter term — the shortest term a team can offer is two years — but for a higher salary. If you match that, it could mess up your cap plans and you’d also only have Simmons for two years. It's similar to what the Nets did with "poison pill" offer sheets to players like Tyler Johnson. You also run the enormous risk of souring what’s been a good relationship between the player and the team.
So what if Simmons doesn’t improve his jump shot enough to your liking? It’s understandable that his youth and underdeveloped game could prohibit a team trying to win a championship. But this is a No. 1 pick that still has the makings of a transcendent player. If the Sixers ever decided to move on from Simmons — which still seems like a particularly silly notion at this point in time — teams would be lining up with offers for an All-Star under the age of 25.
No matter how frustrated you may be about Simmons and his jumper, the max deal is the right move for the Sixers. He’s too young, too talented and there's entirely too much unnecessary risk.
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