Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons 'Problem' Discussed by 76ers GM Elton Brand

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, right, and Joel Embiid talk during an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

While some don't think Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can ever work together on the Philadelphia 76ers, general manager Elton Brand believes it's an issue that can be solved.

"It's a problem that a lot of GMs would like to have if it is a problem," Brand said Saturday, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. "They're two All-Stars. We just need to figure out how these pieces fit. I think you can play very fast. Playoffs are going to slow down, and you have a dominant post player you can play through also. It's a good problem to have if it's a problem."

Both players were selected to the All-Star Game for the second year in a row, but the talented squad sits just fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 32-21 record entering Sunday. The team lost four games in a row before Saturday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Even with Simmons, Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford on the roster, the squad ranks just 20th in offensive efficiency.

Embiid recently complained that the team doesn't have an offensive identity, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia

"Spacing is an issue," he added. "Sometimes we play fast and sometimes we play slow."

Simmons creates some of those spacing problems with his lack of three-point shooting, attempting just six all season. Embiid is more aggressive but has still only knocked down 33 percent of his threes on the year.

These compatibility issues, along with the back-to-back second-round playoff exits, have led some to believe a trade is necessary for the team to reach its potential:

Howard Eskin @howardeskin

Would #Sixers have guts to trade Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons by trade deadline Thursday. Sixers can’t win with both on same team. @SportsRadioWIP

First Things First @FTFonFS1

"This season, and the end result, I think is going to be a referendum on this team. ... If the 76ers get beat in the 1st round, which is not out of realm of possibility, I think you have to break up this group. And I think Ben Simmons will be the one to go." — @SIChrisMannix https://t.co/WAgguiSNzH

Still, Embiid has been one of the best big men in the NBA the past three years while Simmons continues to load up the stat sheet with averages of 16.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.8 rebounds and a league-best 2.2 steals per game.

Brand also believes Simmons will continue to grow as a player and eventually solve the issues.

"He is spacing more, he is getting to the positions, he's learning and he's growing and he's an elite player," the general manager said of the guard. "So I don't want to take away from all of the great things he does, but he's going to improve and when he does it's going to unlock another aspect for our team."

It makes it hard to believe the 76ers will make any drastic changes to the roster any soon.


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