Philadelphia 76ers: Simmons Must Find Way To Star In Eastern Conference

Jul 10, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) protects the ball during an NBA Summer League game against the Chicago Bulls at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) protects the ball during an NBA Summer League game against the Chicago Bulls at Thomas & Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers think they have their star in Ben Simmons. Simmons will try to lead the organization past the fading stars in the conference.

The Philadelphia 76ers rebuild might be one of the most promising rebuilds in the NBA. The fact that they are doing it in the Eastern Conference may even make it more appealing. It’s no secret that one player can carry you past the first round in the Eastern Conference playoffs and the team is hoping Ben Simmons can be that person.

Ben Simmons comes onto a historically bad team that is starting to see their talent level grow rapidly. The team won’t compete this year, or next year, but luckily for Simmons the Eastern Conference is still the weaker of the two. It is improving, but it’s clear to see the superiority the Western Conference owns.

This will help Simmons grow in the long-term, as a playoff appearance may come sooner than the team will be ready for. In the short-term, however, Simmons will have to shine through the stars he grew up watching. Luckily these players are either in the latter half of their careers starting to creep towards it.

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Simmons will be seeing some of the stars still be a challenge for him and the Philadelphia 76ers in the future. Stars have always had their challenges. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were arch enemies. Michael Jordan had the ‘Bad Boys’ and the Utah Jazz, among others. LeBron James has the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors.

The Philadelphia 76ers will hope his name is up there with the names of the greats just mentioned. They’ll also hope Simmons can overcome those challenges. Let’s look at the forces of the Eastern Conference that could serve as huge obstacles for Simmons.

New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers /

The New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers have had a long divisional rivalry. The two teams haven’t been super competitive at the same time in the last decade, but two young stars can spark the rivalry once again. Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, and Joakim Noah have been highlighted as the trio to lead New York back to the playoffs.

That may be true this season, but as the years go by the Philadelphia 76ers will be witnessing a rival star grow in Kristaps Porzingis. In his 3 games against the Sixers, Porzingis averaged 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

Ben Simmons and Porzingis come into the season as the future of their franchises. With Anthony slowly coming towards the the end of his illustrious career, Porzingis will be the name the opposition fears when they hear the Knicks.

Simmons and Porzingis will have some great back and forth battles both regular season and playoffs. If both players and their teams pan out, the Philadelphia 76ers-New York Knicks rivalry could be back into the forefront.

Chicago Bulls: Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers /

The Chicago Bulls saw a huge change this summer. They first pulled in former championship guard Rajon Rondo and then turned towards South Beach. Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat had somewhat of a falling out after the team signed Hassan Whiteside to huge contract, not allowing Wade to finally get the big contract he deserved.

Chicago swooped in and signed the hometown legend to form an intriguing trio led by Jimmy Butler. The offensive fit for this trio isn’t exactly appealing, but adding two veterans who know what it takes to win always help. Plus, the fact that this could make them one of the best perimeter defenses in the league also helps.

Wade comes into the season at 34-years old. Rondo comes in at 30-years old. Butler is only 26. The team has more of a short-term goal, but could still be a challenge for the Philadelphia 76ers down the road. Ben Simmons up against Jimmy Butler will be a heated matchup for a long time and this Bulls trio may be at their dwindling days by the time the Philadelphia 76ers become a force.

Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers /

The Toronto Raptors have continued their reign as one of the most feared Eastern Conference teams and that won’t stop while the Philadelphia 76ers are competitive. The Raptors have found their success behind one of the league’s best guard duos in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

The Philadelphia 76ers will most likely be using Simmons in some sort of “point guard” role, meaning Lowry and DeRozan will be doing their all to stop him. The Raptors have owned the Sixers recently, winning the last 12 meetings.

Ben Simmons will try to halt that this season, and try to terrorize the up north rivals throughout his career. The Raptors core may be at their apex right now, and the Philadelphia 76ers can start attacking them in the near future.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James

Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers /

LeBron James is the king of the Eastern Conference. There’s no questioning 6 straight final appearances, all representing the Eastern Conference. It’s his conference as long as he stands but Simmons will be aiming for him.

Through reported FaceTime calls and golf trash talks, it’s pretty clear the two Nike stars of LeBron James and Ben Simmons are friends. Well these friends may be the Goliaths (and rivals) of the East in a few seasons. Simmons will continue to prove he can be in the same discussions as the game’s elite, and what better way to do so than beating one of the best to ever play?

James has seen his fair share of competition, but Simmons can be that on-court rival off-court friend that will allow him to pass the torch off to the hopeful rookie. Simmons will have to impress incredibly to even get close to this honor, but his confidence spews greatness.

Next: Important Preseason For Grant

The Philadelphia 76ers would be blessed to have Simmons grow into someone with a legacy that endures huge on-court obstacles. A star in the making is what Simmons is, now can the Philadelphia 76ers make him a star?