Brett Brown Needs Ben Simmons Return

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown Needs the return of top draft pick Ben Simmons NOW!!

The Philadelphia 76ers are better than their record. Scoff all you want, but the Philadelphia 76ers, on paper, are about a 16 win team right now. The team began the season with two starters out, and the health of the team has not improved from that mark so far.

This team has not had veteran and projected starting point guard Jerryd Bayless for more than three games, and no more for the remainder of the season.  Nerlens Noel missed valuable games, when the team needed him most to catch minutes left over between Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor restrictions. Gerald Henderson missed games with a sore hip. Sergio Rodriguez missed games with a rolled ankle.

But this team has yet to see top draft pick rookie Ben Simmons on the basketball court.  Ben Simmons, the consensus best talent available to the NBA via the 2016 NBA Draft, has remained on the sidelines rehabbing a fractured foot.

Jan 3, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (33) reacts with Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and guard Nik Stauskas (11) after hitting the game winning shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 93-91. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Off Balance

Imagine an NFL team drafting the number one quarterback in the draft, only to play the first two months without him.  You see, draft order in professional sports are designed to balance the talent levels. Bad teams get top talent. Best teams get riskier talent.

Without Ben Simmons, the burden of the team has been shouldered by workhorse rookie Joel Embiid. Embiid has done everything asked of him, and then some.  But the team’s upside does not run through Embiid. The offense does. The defense does. But when we are talking the unique versatility that will take this team to the next level, we are talking Ben Simmons.

You see, the Philadelphia 76ers have pieces now, pieces that could fit into a championship team. We know that one cornerstone is that of Joel Embiid as anchor in the front court.

But Ben Simmons is the team’s dispatch. From that moment he arrives, he will gear up to run the plays, direct traffic, distribute the ball, set the defense, and even set the pace for the team. Some players will be able to keep up. Some won’t.  With the grand experimentation of compatibility with Joel Embiid, everything will get thrown out and reset when Simmons arrives.

Dec 14, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and forward Nerlens Noel (M) and forward Ben Simmons (R) during a timeout in the second half against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. The Toronto Raptors won 123.114. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Simmons Embiid Dimension

Ben Simmons is slotted to point guard. But the reality is that Ben Simmons can play any position of a basketball team. Versatility is one of the most treasured skills in a basketball player today, and particularly by head coach Brett Brown.

Embiid is equally versatile. While he will seldom be pulled away from defending the basket, he has no fear defending any player on the opposing team.

But as you examine the Philadelphia 76ers roster, limited role players are exiting, while the team appears to be more and more comprised of two-way, multi-positional players. Players like Robert Covington, Nik Stauskas, Dario Saric, Ersan Ilyasova, Richaun Holmes, and even Nerlens Noel have the versatility to slide in at multiple positions to fit the game, or the game situation.

Dec 30, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown looks on in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The 76ers won 124-122. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Final Experiment

Brett Brown has been pushed to the brink. He’s had to manufacture an NBA team out of the mail order bride pieces of a roster available to him each of the past four season. And each season, the key piece has been missing.

That is about to end, and not a moment too soon. Finally, the moment of truth will happen in February. From the moment Ben Simmons steps onto the basketball court, the team will run their final experiments.  Who can play with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons?  Brett Brown will be rushed to find out.

You see, the team has four players on expiring contracts: Ersan Ilyasova, Nerlens Noel, Sergio Rodriguez, and T.J. McConnell.  Whether the team attempts to retain any could depend almost exclusively on games played after Simmons returns.

Simmons will need help. With Embiid running the paint,  he will need spacing to open the floor. He will need scoring from the perimeter. Players like Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Nik Stauskas will suddenly find themselves in the spotlight at various times in a game.

Jun 24, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers number one overall draft pick Ben Simmons (not pictured) parents Julie (R) and David (M) sit with head coach Brett Brown (L) during an introduction press conference at the Philadelphia College Of Osteopathic Medicine. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Take ‘Er Out For A Spin

The entire team scheming for head coach Brett Brown has never been placed onto the race track. The team has had to back the game-plan up to the rack while various players were swapped, pulled for repairs, or simply to allow the front office to tinker around.

So far, the team has never had all it’s parts. In fact, it has been missing a major cog since Brown has been with the team.

But when Simmons returns, the major pieces will be active and on the roster simultaneously.  And so, the “hold the team together in crises” and the “lets develop this rawest of raw prospects into an nba player” will be placed to the side, and the basketball schemes will commence.

Again, not a moment too soon.  Bryan Colangelo is under a great deal of pressure to win games this year. That type of pressure rolls downhill.   While not expected to be on the hot seat, Brett Brown’s coaching position is not secure by any means. Even with direct family ties to Ben Simmons family, he will still need to prove to the Colangelos that he can outcoach the opposition when he has a healthier roster.

In the end, Simmons needs a healthy roster to be graded effectively.  And that means games with Ben Simmons fully healthy and acclimated. The NBA Season ends mid-April 2017.  By mid February, the team will only have 25 plus games to sort everything out.

Brett Brown needs Simmons aboard as quickly as possible. If not for the team’s sake, certainly for his own.

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