Sixers Mailbag: What’s Ben Simmons Defensive Role?

Apr 10, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) practices before a game against the Indiana Pacers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) practices before a game against the Indiana Pacers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Sixers in a slow part of the offseason, Section 215 writer George Kondoleon took to Twitter to answer some questions.

The Sixers may not be the most exciting team to follow in the offseason, but there are still a lot of intrigue on how the team can re-tool the roster to move forward in the rebuild. The health of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will always be talking matter, but beyond that the team can add another young star in this year’s NBA Draft.

All these burning questions and more! I took to Twitter and answer some awesome questions about the Ben Simmons’ role defensively, team’s philosophy in free agency, the draft, and my favorite Sixers nicknames.

Is Ben Simmons really guarding point guards next season?

This one is a tough one and I’m going to go with two cop out answers; sometimes and depends. The Sixers roster still has a lot of moving parts, and despite having a high pick in a guard-filled draft, the team could go after solid guard in free agency. As the roster stands now, I can see coach Brett Brown throwing Simmons into the fire guarding taller ball handlers.

For instance, Simmons might get some time up against Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson. But ask him to cover a John Wall or an Isaiah Thomas, you start to put a hole in your defensive rotations. I buy it for now, because Brown is usually a straight-shooter, and he also is known for experimentation with lineups.

Simmons gives the team a unique star, and trying out his length in different ways early on will have a marginal immediate impact. But it could spell out what his future defensive role is. With Embiid patrolling the paint, it would also be interesting to see Simmons take on a Giannis Antetokounmpo role defensively. Which means not technically defending the point guard 100% of the time, but often switching on to the primary ball handler in an NFL safety-type role.

For reference:

Best Case Free Agency Scenario?

Best case scenario for the Sixers may be who they DON’T land. Throwing money to an aging Kyle Lowry will give immediate success, but not the type fans have been sitting through the most controversial rebuild for. But, the Sixers could still pick up some much needed help and it starts with a low-usage guard who can provide serviceable defense.

If the Sixers can reacquire injury-riddled guard Jrue Holiday on a short-term deal, it would give the team a basis on the type of players that could work around Ben Simmons. Holiday can play as an off-ball shooter while also providing solid defensive help around the perimeter. He’ll most likely get a long-term deal, but you know, best case scenario.

Next in my best case scenario, Philadelphia pries away either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Otto Porter Jr. in restricted free agency. Before the “TOO MUCH MONEY” comments, both players provide versatile attacks offensively, and Porter Jr. would instantly become the best two-way wing on the team. Also, where’s the hurt in adding productive young players? (ASSETS).

Finally, top off those two signings with a veteran backup power forward, and you have yourself a manageable free agent period that won’t break the bank long-term.

Who’s Your Dream Free Agent?

My man crush on J.J. Redick will come back to bite me one day. Redick isn’t the perfect fit next to Simmons on the defensive end, but he’s one of the top catch and shoot options in the league. His ability to find open space without the ball is matched only by some of the top guards in the league.

His game flopped these playoffs, and while I fully expect him to re-sign with the Clippers, seeing him on the Sixers with a high-paying two-year deal wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen in this world.

Sixers going after big fish?

Yes. Fully expect to hear the Sixers in talks for the biggest free agents out there. There is little to no chance they nab any of them, but Bryan Colangelo will be looking to use up cap space on a player he believes can put the franchise forward. His most obvious target may be Kyle Lowry. Debate if Lowry does enough to make this team a contender, but the chances he will at least be getting a call are high in my opinion.

This same philosophy will carry over to next offseason as well. This is because the Sixers cap space will be rapidly decreasing thanks to the expected rookie extension of Joel Embiid and eventually Ben Simmons and Dario Saric. The team will hope to have a star-studded core by then, and Colangelo will be snooping near the top of the free agent list, farfetched or not.

Lakers Pick!!!

This scenario is one that is actually more probable to happen, according to NBA Draft Lottery history. Assuming the top two are Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, the team would be foolish to pass on Josh Jackson, whose potential may be just as or even more promising than the top two. Jackson and Robert Covington at the wing positions would cause headaches for almost any offense trying to find their way to the rim. With Jackson as the pick at third, the Sixers should take a shot on Malik Monk.

Monk is an undersized off-ball guard, but his quick release leads me to believe he can become an effective (or at least streaky) scorer. He’s a nice complement to Simmons, and would give Brown some more versatility to a lineup filled with young prospects.

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Say Fultz and Jackson go top two. I’d envision the Sixers taking a shot at Ball, and then using the fourth pick on a high-potential prospect like Jayson Tatum. Tatum has glaring weaknesses, but his finishing around the rim is the best in this draft class. His ability in isolation is so polished for a young prospect, and has the potential to be one of the top scoring wings in the league one day.

It’s a high risk pick, but one that could have a huge payoff considering the team already selected Lonzo Ball.

Blockbuster Deal?

Despite those assets being highly valued, I don’t believe it’s enough to steal away Anthony Davis. Davis is perhaps the best big man in the league at just 24-years old, and the Sixers would no doubt have to add a star to this trade. But, your question brings up another good question. Do the Sixers make a blockbuster deal?

If the team ends up with the third and fourth picks, or the fourth and fifth picks, do they try to trade at least one of those assets or both for a proven star? The Process in the fanbase would have most screaming “NO WAY”, but this part of what Sam Hinkie envisioned.

The team may not be able to get an Anthony Davis, but there are some marquee players that could be available for a hefty price. There’s a lot of variables that go into this, but the Sixers have assets to use, one way or another.

Favorite Sixers nicknames?

I might be showing my basic-ness here but The Answer is just an all-time great nickname. It’s confident, in your face, and intimidating. Just like the person who proudly represented that nickname.

My next would have to be Chocolate Thunder. Me and Darryl Dawkins were friends, and he used to tell me all the time he wanted a cooking show just to make a dessert called Chocolate Thunder. It’s a fitting nickname considering the man shattered backboards for a living.

My third, I was debating listing The Process, but I’m going Sauce Castillo. Nik Stauskas has taken that nickname and ran with it. The origin of it cracks me up (you can read about it here), and the fact a Philly native discovered it is incredibly ironic and cool.

Next: Sixers Hold A Volatile Fourth Position In The Lottery

That’s it for this week’s mailbag. As the Sixers head towards the lottery and draft, more questions will be answers, and others will spring up. It’s a pivotal offseason once again for Philadelphia, let’s see if they pivot the right way!