Philadelphia 76ers: Betting on Ben Simmons is a no-brainer

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

After filling out the roster in free agency, the Philadelphia 76ers’ decision to sign Ben Simmons to a max contract feels like a no-brainer.

It happened; it finally happened. After initially opening up talks on the first day of free agency, the Philadelphia 76ers have officially signed Ben Simmons to a brand new five-year, max contract.

And after locking up the vast majority of his supporting cast for the forthcoming season, this move nicely caps off Elton Brand‘s first summer as the Sixers’ GM.

Though the exact conditions of the deal are not presently known, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Simmons has, in fact, signed a full five-year, $170 million max extension – the maximum amount allowed under the current CBA for a rookie extension.

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Now sure, some might call this is a dumb move or rhetorically state that committing so much money long-term to a player who won’t even attempt a jump shot is foolish, but really, that statement in and of itself is just plain flawed.

Ben Simmons is a universal max player.

With supreme passing abilities, once-in-a-generation athleticism, and the flexibility to play all five positions across the court, there’s conceivably a spot for Simmons on virtually every team in the NBA.

And in any coach’s scheme.

So whether Brett Brown can continue to plow ahead and progress his team with each passing season, or someone else has to take up the torch in leading the Sixers’ charge towards an NBA championship, there will always be a place for Simmons in any scheme – something very few players can confidently say.

If Simmons’ shot does remain a minus for the duration of his new contract, a thought that is not impossible but seems unlikely, he still has the potential to blossom into a top-tier defensive player who can guard any position across the board.

Last season, Simmons finished out the regular season as the 18th-ranked defensive point guard in the NBA according to ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus (.53). Now that number is slightly skewed because Simmons doesn’t exclusively cover other point guards, but when viewed in the context of all players in the league, he still ranked 180th out of 514 players. With players like Al Horford and Josh Richardson sliding in the starting five, it’s entirely possible Simmons could take a step forward as the switchable crown jewel of Brown’s defense at the top of the key.

Furthermore, at the tender age of 22, this extension locks Simmons in through his 28-year old season – right dead in the middle of his prime.

If Simmons does come back this fall with an improved offensive game, a claim Tobias Harris asserted after the duo worked out earlier this month, it’s entirely possible Big Ben could look like a bargain by Christmas, with four more years left to get better and more confident.

And fortunately for all parties involved, Simmons will be afforded an opportunity to do so around the same starting five for at least the next three seasons.

With Richardson under contract through 2022, Horford and Joel Embiid under contract through 2023, and Harris under contract to 2024, Simmons will have some much-needed continuity in his starting five for the foreseeable future, a godsend after having to mesh with three separate Starting 5s in 2018-19 alone.

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Whether this deal ultimately looks like a bargain or a slight disappointment remains to be seen based on the team’s ultimate trajectory and the players’ commitment to getting better, but with a very high floor and virtually no ceiling, the Philadelphia 76ers decision to max out Ben Simmons is as big a no-brainer as I’ve seen in the NBA.