After failing to garner much love from the fans during the initial run of All-Star voting, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons has officially been named to the league’s most consequential game for the third straight season as an Eastern Conference reserve.
And honestly, it’s encouraging that the league’s coach didn’t mess this one up.
For those out of the know, All-Star game reserves are voted on exclusively by the coaches, with fan, media, and player votes irrelevant to the conversation.
Fortunately, NBA coaches appear far more appreciative of Simmons’ expansive portfolio of basketball abilities than your standard run-of-the-mill fan on Twitter.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ big two are All-Star-bound once more.
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To some, the All-Star game is nothing more than a boring exhibition game where no one plays defense. If that’s your take, that’s totally cool, but it’s a bit of a shortsighted one.
Yes, the score, stats, and ultimate performances of the players in attendance are effectively inconsequential- with the winning conference getting a tad more money and home-field advantage in the NBA Finals – but it does present NBA fans with a unique opportunity to see your favorite players shaded in a new light under a different head coach.
In that regard, there’s nothing more exciting than the idea of seeing how a coach like Quin Snyder opts to use the supremely talented guard/forward/center on the court.
Now granted, there’s no guarantee that Simmons ends up playing for Snyder in the All-Star game. Doc Rivers has officially been named an All-Star coach, and he may very well end up “stuck” with Simmons once more.
Would that be the worst-case scenario? No way. Simmons has played some of the best basketball of his career under the good Doc, and it would be exciting to see how his current role would operate alongside All-Star point guards, forwards, and centers alike.
But under Snyder? Who knows how Simmons would be deployed.
Does the Utah Jazz’s head coach view Simmons as a ball-dominant guard? Or would he instead like to deploy Simmons as a combo forward who plays on the wings on defense and in the paint on offense? Maybe Snyder could even take a page from Rivers’ book and use Simmons as a center a la his deployment in his 42 point game versus Utah earlier this month?
Either way, getting a chance to see Simmons recontextualized in a different light under a different head coach could pay dividends for the Sixers moving forward.
Do you remember Joel Embiid’s masterful performance in the 2020 NBA All-Star game as a member of Team Giannis? He dominated the rock as the best player on the court and showcased how effective he could be as a super high usage player saved from Brett Brown’s ugly offense. In a beautiful twist of fate, the Philadelphia 76ers may have the very same opportunity in 2021 with Ben Simmons, only this time, they have the players and coach in place to build upon an impressive All-Star showing.