Re-Grading the 76ers' Last 5 First-Round Picks

With the 2024 NBA Draft around the corner, it's a great time to take a look at the Philadelphia 76ers' last five first-round selections.
Tyrese Maxey has, easily, been the 76ers' best first-round draft pick in the last few years.
Tyrese Maxey has, easily, been the 76ers' best first-round draft pick in the last few years. / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
5 of 5

1. Ben Simmons, PG/SG (2016 R1, P1): B-

Out of the five players on this list, Ben Simmons was the most difficult to grade. After all, it's easy to forget how good he was when he first entered the league due to the headlines surrounding him in the last few seasons.

After missing the 2016-17 season, Simmons exploded onto the scene by winning the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year award. He continued to establish himself as one of the league's best players in the next three seasons, making three All-Star games and two All-Defensive teams while even being the 2020 steals leader.

By the time his run in Philadelphia finished, Simmons had averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.7 blocks while shooting 56.0% from the floor. It really looked like he was on his way to being a top-20 player in the NBA, if not higher.

Unfortunately, Simmons never looked like one of basketball's best players when the postseason arrived. He'd often go invisible in the playoffs and the final straw came against the Atlanta Hawks in 2021. 76ers fans lost most love for Simmons and opted to pass the ball instead of going for an easy layup, made only worse by the fact that it was a must-win Game 7 situation.

Simmons proceeded to miss the entire 2020-21 season due to alleged mental health issues. He became the most fined player in NBA history after refusing to report to the 76ers, leading to his eventual trade in February 2022. Philadelphia shipped the disgruntled point forward — along with Andre Drummond, Seth Curry, and two first-rounders — to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden and Paul Millsap.

It's safe to say that the trade didn't really work out for either side. Harden is already gone while Simmons has only played in 57 of 164 possible games for the Nets (34.8%) while averaging just 6.7 PTS/6.7 REB/6.0 AST — all down from his numbers with the 76ers.

If Simmons' numbers in Brooklyn were his career average, this re-grade would be an F. Nevertheless, his All-NBA-quality play with the 76ers salvages the grade. It's just a shame that it could've been much higher had injuries and mental obstacles not de-railed his once-promising career.

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