Men will literally not shoot in the 4th quarter of a game 7 instead of going to therapy.
We can get into the big picture stuff, but at the core of this bizarre story is this bizarre fact: 6’10”, former high school phenom & 1st Overall draft pick Ben Simmons is afraid to shoot a basketball from any distance when it matters. Anyone who’s been around the 76ers over the last few years swears by his shooting ability, and every offseason House of Highlights posts workout video propaganda of him pulling up from 30 feet with a caption along the lines of “THE LEAGUE ISN’T READY!”. Ben Simmons puts in the work and has the talent. The issue is mental.
I have a BSc in Psychology that I have no intention of ever using professionally but I can (somewhat) credibly say this: conquering issues in mental health always seems simple to outsiders and never is. I got my joke in at the top, but I’m not going to speculate here about if Ben Simmons has never seen a sports psychologist or if he’s seen 17 since entering the NBA. I just want to establish what I think is the major issue in Ben Simmons’ game- the thing that’s gotten him and the 76ers into this divorce that I find fascinating.
People seemed to expect a trade to go through before free agency, and since that didn’t happen the idea that Ben Simmons might not get traded has been growing in popularity. Make no mistake: Ben Simmons has played his last game in a 76ers jersey. Not only did the city of Philadelphia collectively threaten to curbstomp him after losing game 7 of the East-Semis, Joel Embiid himself publicly pinned the loss to the player that was supposed to be his co-star. If Daryl Morey signs Andre Drummond- AKA Joel Embiid’s least favorite punching bag- and doesn’t trade Ben Simmons in the same offseason, he’ll be forced into trading a very angry Joel Embiid next offseason. Simmons just has to go.
It seems like Ben knows that, and quite frankly wants a fresh start somewhere else too. So when stories of him ignoring Daryl Morey and Joel Embiid came out recently, I was confused. Professional athletes are known to warp reality into whatever narrative they prefer to motivate them or just to feed their ego, but it takes some serious mental gymnastics to convince yourself the 76ers have done you wrong if you’re Ben Simmons. Again, I have no idea how hard he has or hasn’t worked to solve his shooting woes, so maybe he feels like his character is being assassinated. Maybe he naively believed Morey when he said the 76ers plan to keep him on the roster, something the GM has to say to keep Simmons’ already plummeting trade value somewhat high, and is in the early days of a James Harden-esque temper tantrum to force his way out.
Klutch Sports- the agency that represents Ben Simmons- has been praised for their handling of their clients in recent years since getting Anthony Davis out of New Orleans…but do they deserve it? The Brow wanted out, and would’ve gotten out even if his agent was a block of cheese- the Pelicans didn’t have much choice. If anything, Klutch getting involved, demanding the trade midway through 2019 and failing to get it done did nothing but tarnish Davis’ reputation in New Orleans and cost him an All-NBA, All Defensive caliber 2019 season when the Pelicans shut him down. The tactics they’re now employing with Simmons are only further complicating moving him, and make him seem childish and immature.
Regardless of all that, Ben Simmons is going to be traded. So the only questions that really matter are what team would be best for Ben, and what teams are realistic suitors for a trade? I hate trade machine conversations- the money works out but they never end up becoming a reality. So I want to put forward my suggestion for the best landing spot for Ben Simmons, which is also the team that could use him the most, by asking this:
Is Draymond Green really worth all the bullshit?
I want to preface my argument by saying I know Draymond is much more than the league leader in grit NBA twitter makes him out to be. He’s an incredible basketball mind, and would’ve gotten my vote for Defensive Player of the Year this past season.
You can pretty easily make the argument that he cost the Warriors a championship in 2016 though. If he doesn’t get suspended the Warriors probably win that series one way or another (Side note: I also 100% believe if Andrew Bogut doesn’t get hurt they win that series, if for no other reason than Festus Ezeli isn’t playing in game 7). Based on everything that’s been written about Kevin Durant’s time in Golden State he probably leaves even if Draymond baked him cookies before every game and never raised his voice above a whisper for 3 years, but who knows. Him pissing off Kevin Durant for at least a year definitely didn’t help.
That’s all in the past though right? What happened happened and Draymond Green is instrumental to the Warriors’ title hopes now. Right?
Enter “Chips”, the worst titled interview show ever, hosted by the man himself, Draymond Green. His first guest? None other than Kevin Durant.
The interview is objectively great, but it comes on the heels of the former NBA teammates becoming Olympic teammates once again, winning gold in Tokyo a couple weeks ago. KD was the elder statesmen and clear star of the team, so make no mistake: if Durant didn’t want to play with Draymond, Jerry Colangelo would have happily told Draymond to spend his summer daydreaming about taking Charles Barkley’s job in ten years. There may have still been some beef to squash, but they were both at least open to squashing it leading up to the Olympics. This interview was not the first time they’ve talked about these things or that fight in 2018.
We’ve all had fights with friends. What’s the last thing you want to do after you make up? Fight again. Like I said, pro athletes are great at mental gymnastics and those two were triple somersaulting and sticking it right into Steve Kerr’s surgically repaired back. He was on that team in Tokyo too by the way.
Steve Kerr hit a Championship winning shot and is still best known as the dude Michael Jordan punched in practice that one time. He can handle a little slander, and so can Bob Myers. So why does Draymond Green illogically framing his fight with Kevin Durant as Warriors management’s fault matter? Because players always take the side of other players, and Golden State is looking for at least one more impactful player to solidify their contender status. Things like this matter to players when they’re choosing where to play. It’s why the Knicks have attracted one star player in 20 years despite playing in New York. Depending on who you believe Damian Lillard apparently has interest in being the best 3rd best shooter on a team in NBA history. But it also doesn’t seem like Dame is absolutely dying to leave Portland. It seems to me that he wants out, but only if he’s going to the right situation. Maybe he’s ok with playing 2nd banana to Steph in his own home town no matter what, or maybe he’s just barely ok with it and a meddlesome front office is enough for him to cross the Warriors off his list.
So let’s say this is the last straw. Bob Myers is sick of Draymond’s antics, and he’s shipping him out. But how is Golden State possibly going to replace his incredible passing, and elite defensive versatility?
I got there eventually.
Draymond Green (and stuff) for Ben Simmons.
I’m not delusional, I know Daryl Morey immediately hangs up and subtweets the Warriors when he hears this offer. But we’re talking about the best place for Ben Simmons, not the best trade for both teams.
As I alluded to Ben Simmons could pair just as well with Steph Curry in the pick & roll the Warriors offense is so heavily predicated on, being just as good of a passer as Draymond Green and a much better finisher at the rim. He can guard one through four just as well, if not better than Draymond. There may be some questions as to whether or not he can play small ball center, something he’s obviously never been asked to do alongside Embiid, but I’d take that bet. The Warriors organization as a whole has been lauded as forward thinking and progressive for the last decade. If any team can help Simmons get past whatever mental block he has it’s them, and who better to teach him to shoot at an NBA level once he does than the Splash Brothers?
It’s a match made in basketball heaven. Ben Simmons would become the undisputed greatest male Australian basketball player of all time, in the same jersey the current one got a ring in (he’s a dick, but it’s true). For all we know, the Warriors are shopping Draymond right now and Simmons is on the top of their wish list. It would be a catastrophic return for the 76ers but if Klutch keeps driving his trade stock down, it just might come to them settling for this offer. Maybe they are good at this after all.