The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t built to weather a Ben Simmons injury

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

After building a roster specifically to cover for potential injuries to Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers aren’t designed to weather an extended Ben Simmons injury.

The Philadelphia 76ers‘ roster is weird.

The team is super tall, kinda slow, not very good at shooting, and run an at-times brutally ugly halfcourt offense. If you were to build the least exciting roster in the NBA to win games 108-106 at a below-average pace, it would be this iteration of the Sixers.

But one thing the roster could always rely on is star power at the one and five.

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With two of the most exciting sub-25 players in the league locked into long-term, max contracts, the 76ers can at the very least count on having Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as their pillars moving forward, even if the duo’s long-term fit together is one of the most contested conversations in the sports world.

However, there’s a problem: The 76ers just aren’t built to weather a lengthy Simmons injury.

I know, I know, as crazy as it sounds for a team heckbent on building a roster with five different ways to replace Embiid should he eat some unagreeable shellfish, the Sixers’ plan sans-Simmons is shakey – actually, shakey may be putting it mildly.

In the 76ers’ first game since the Woj Bomb heard ’round the Delaware Valley, the 76ers started Shake Milton at the one. Now don’t get me wrong, Milton is a solid player, with the potential to be a pretty good contributor down the line, but he has no business being a top-eight player on a playoff contender.

There’s also that ugly fact that Milton has never been particularly good at playing point guard at the NBA-level, a trend that dates all the way back to 2019’s Summer League Sixers. The Shakester can get his own shot, I’ll give you that, but his ceiling is Landry Shamet, not George Hill.

Okay, so maybe Milton isn’t the guy – fair. The team has to have other options, right?


The 76ers will in all likelihood ride with either Josh Richardson or Alec Burks as their lead guard for vast stretches of this Simmons-less stretch. While putting the ball into either player’s hands isn’t the worst idea, as they too can create their own shots, the duo have roughly the same player profiles as Milton: Shooting guards who can create their own shot but don’t facilitate.

Of the 16 players the 76ers have under contract in 2019-20 (including Marial Shayok), only one, Raul Neto, is a true blue point guard. The only problem? Neto really isn’t all that good. He started on the team’s first game without Simmons against the Brooklyn Nets, but only played 28 minutes and was replaced with Milton down the stretch.

Neto played six garbage-y minutes for the 76ers against the Milwaukee Bucks and scored zero points for his efforts.

If Simmons’ injury persists, I guess the team could look into logical external candidates like Tyler Johnson (more on him here) as a logical stopgap replacement with experience playing alongside Richardson, but when has this team ever done the conventional? They only have one point guard under contract for crying out loud.

Next. Tyler Johnson could help to fill in for Ben Simmons. dark

In all actuality, this worry about a Ben Simmons-less stretch could be overblown. Woj said it himself “This isn’t a day-to-day injury; Simmons will miss time. How much time? That’s still unclear”. If he’s out for one, maybe two weeks, the 76ers can probably weather that without falling too far in the standings based on their strength of schedule. However, if the City of Brotherly Love has to suffer through a Simmons-less March, then the Philadelphia 76ers’ hoop dreams of picking up home court in round one could become just that: Dreams.