Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons is a universal max player

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

While giving Ben Simmons a max contract is a big commitment for the Philadelphia 76ers, virtually every other team in the league would do the same.

For $170 million, the Philadelphia 76ers can lock up Ben Simmons for the next five seasons.

Now that may seem like a lot of money to commit to a soon-to-be 23-year-old point guard who can’t shoot consistently outside the paint, but if the Sixers were to allow Simmons to hit the open market, there are 29 teams (give or take) who could happily lineup to max him out.

And why wouldn’t they?

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Measuring in at 6-foot-10 with the handles (and passing prowess) of a point guard, Simmons is one of the few players in the league who could conceivably start at any position across a starting five and still produce at a near-All-Star-level.

That’s kind of the beauty of Ben Simmons’ game; he can pretty much be inserted into any formation and still find a way to impact a game.

If, for example, the 76ers were to trade Simmons to Houston, it’s entirely within the realm of possibility to imagine the 22-year-old Australian wonder transitioning into an off-ball role as a defense focused forward who can be a factor in the pick-and-roll game in the vein of their current center Clint Capela. However, unlike Capela, Simmons could add a whole ‘nother dimension to Mike D’Antoni‘s offense due to his ability to be a playmaker from the paint or as the big half of a James Harden/Chris Paul pick-and-roll.

Furthermore, one could just as easily imagine Simmons continuing to shine as a big-ball point guard with a team like the Los Angeles Lakers, who could pair the ‘Fresh Prince’ with his mentor Lebron ‘King James’.

Though he doesn’t possess the usual shooting prowess a LeBron-led team looks for in their backcourt, Simmons could provide effectively take over for Lonzo Ball as the Lakers’ primary ball handler; providing the additional handles, passing, and court vision needed to optimize James’ later years and allow him to transition into a less-involved role in his escalating age.

Really, the only teams that wouldn’t be immediately better with Simmons inserted onto their rosters would be someone like the Milwaukee Bucks or the New Orleans Pelicans who already have a forward-sized primary ball handler on their rosters.

But even in these situations, Simmons could provide value as a primary, switchable defender both on the wings and in the paint.

Now sure, one could argue that plenty of teams wouldn’t want to commit to five-years of Simmons at about $34 million a year depending on how their roster and salary cap situation is presently constructed, but that’s not what this is about. No, the reason Simmons is a universal max player is because of his universal skill set that could conceivably translate to any other team across the NBA, be they the lowly Knicks or the Golden State Warriors.

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If he can develop a legitimate outside shot, Ben Simmons has the potential (and a blueprint) to become an MVP-level contributor, but even if he plateaus at perennial All-Star, there’s virtually no downside to extending him out through the 2024 season regardless of what the future holds.