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DBB on 3: Let’s dissect the Ben Simmons rumors

The Pistons have been linked to the 76ers disgruntled star. Would a trade make sense for Detroit?

Philadelphia 76ers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Ben Simmons is unhappy.

After fizzling out in the playoffs last season, the angsty Aussie was the focus of criticism from Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers and star center Joel Embiid. Simmons’ skills are unique but flawed, just like his style of play. He’s demanding a trade and a number of teams have reportedly shown some interest—including the Detroit Pistons.

The DBB crew dives a little deeper:

1. Detroit has been rumored as a potential landing spot for Ben Simmons. In a vacuum, what are your feelings on Simmons and his overall game?

Laz Jackson: Offensively, Ben Simmons is the same player he was his rookie year. Points, rebounds, assists, FG%, TS%, eFG%, MOET all say the same thing - he’s roughly a 15-8-8 guy. He has overtly shrunk from big moments in the playoffs (not shooting in the fourth quarter - not just Game 7 either - against Atlanta, disappearing in 2019 against the Raptors, getting outscored and outshot by DARIO SARIC in 2018 vs Boston). His refusal to accept his true positional designation (power forward) for two years speaks to the entitlement he stepped into the league with. He’s an All-NBA level defender... but he specializes in brutalizing smaller forwards/wings.

Ben Simmons is not a bad player, but you can’t win with him. Or, rather, you can’t win with the player he thinks he is.

Ben Gaulker: He’s a good player as long as he’s not forcing his own shot. A roster like Philly’s actually makes sense for him — he can facilitate and play make for better shooters and scorers who aren’t necessarily great playmakers themselves.

Brady Fredericksen: I think he’s a unique playmaker whose recent playoff failures are overshadowing the player he is. Yes, Simmons’ game hasn’t evolved like we expected it to, but I don’t think his role has ever had the chance to evolve in Philly either. He’s perennially second banana to Joel Embiid. I’d be interested to see what he can do in a situation as the primary playmaker surrounded by shooters and a top-notch perimeter scorer.

Ben Quagliata: I think a lot of the discourse around Simmons has gone past the realms of reasonability and into pretty ludicrous over-exaggerations about his skill level as an All-Star caliber NBA player. His Hawks series was bad, but in a vacuum he’s still one of the most uniquely skilled triple double threats in the NBA. A 6-foot-10 playmaker who can average 14-7-7 with a limited shot repertoire is always imminently valuable in the modern NBA. The shot concerns, to me, are a bit overblown and he’s proven he can be effective in the right system, which everyone I think realizes ain’t Philly anymore.

Bryce Simon: I think he is a much better player than people are currently giving him credit for. I know and understand how bad those last 3 games of the playoffs were but this is also a guy that had a 19 point triple double to close out the Wizards in the series before AND had a near triple double in the game immediately before that 3 game stretch. He is also a player that had 42 points on the Utah Jazz in a regular season game of last season. All I’m saying is that if he can get past whatever happened mentally at the end of last year’s playoffs, he is a really good player. As for the talk about his work ethic and “love for basketball,” that is something I don’t feel comfortable speaking on but if its a legit concern then obviously thats a huge worry as well.

Justin Lambregtse: I think Ben Simmons can work as an offensive initiator in a lineup that features a lot of shooters. He is one of the best in the league at generating open 3s for teammates. However, I think you will always run into problems in the playoffs due to his lack of shooting. You can cover for it with shooters, but he has to at least be some kind of factor offensively.

2. How do you think his style and specific set of skills would fit with Detroit’s core?

Laz Jackson: He would be an excellent fit defensively alongside Isaiah Stewart and Kelly Olynyk, he would help this team push the pace (something I have pleaded for on the podcast for years), and he would help alleviate the rebounding issue the Pistons have displayed in their first two preseason games. Unfortunately, the 12-car-pileup halfcourt offense putting him on the floor with Killian or Hami or, frankly, Beef Stew (until teams really respect his range) blunts a lot of that effectiveness.

Ben Gaulker: I could see him meshing with Grant, Bey, and Stewart very well, but I’m not sure I’d prefer the ball in his hands over Cade’s. And his offensive weaknesses overlap with Killian’s in ways I don’t like.

Brady Fredericksen: Most people seem to think he’d be some sort of blackhole — I don’t buy that. There are concerns about Cade Cunningham’s handle and ability to separate and create at volume for others in the NBA. Whether or not that proves to be the case is yet to be seen, but I think his final form is closer to a shooter/scorer like Jayson Tatum than a volume playmaker like Luka Doncic. Detroit will need other playmakers, and Simmons can be that.

Ben Quagliata: I’m just not sure Detroit has the quality of shooting that would be needed to make Simmons an effective threat. Without knowing who they’d have to give up for him, if you examine the Detroit roster there aren’t a lot of consistent outside threats. Saddiq and Frank Jackson might be the only ones, but guys like Josh, Hami, Killian, Cade etc haven’t proven yet that they’re effective wing shooters. Simmons needs space in the lane and an effective pick and roll big man, and while I think he’d flourish with either Isaiah or Kelly in that situation, I think defenders would pack the paint and his playmaking might be slightly neutered with that lack of spacing.

Bryce Simon: I actually think he would fit really nicely with Cade Cunningham. I see Ben Simmons in more of the Draymond Green type offensive role as the short role screener in PnR situations and you put him there with Cade, surrounded by two shooters and a short corner catch and finisher (or lob threat) and I think that you get some great returns. He is also really good in transition which, while not something we have necessarily seen, I’m hoping is something we see this team do more.

Justin Lambregtse: I am not sure about the fit with the current core. Assuming Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham stick around, the team will be very good defensively, but a lack of spacing and taking the ball out of Hayes’ and Cunningham’s hands is not the best for the long-term goals of the team.

3. Would you be in favor of the Pistons trading for Ben Simmons? Why or why not?

Laz Jackson: No, the Pistons should not trade for Ben Simmons. The optimal solution for Ben Simmons the person and Ben Simmons the player is a trade to Sacramento, where Ben can live out his fantasies of being a primary ballhandler in the equivalent of NBA exile, and Philadelphia can have a guy who does much of what Simmons does offensively but who HAS actually improved as a player in De’Aaron Fox.

Ben Gaulker: Absolutely not, and it’s not close or complicated.

Brady Fredericksen: Sure. I just don’t know why the Sixers would want what the Pistons have to offer, though. If I remember right, Detroit can’t offer up a future first round pick until they convey their limbo pick owed to Houston. That means an offer of Jerami Grant, Killian Hayes and Cory Joseph would have to suffice. Grant works in Philly, but will never be one of the top guys on the next legitimately good Detroit team. Love Grant, but that’s not in the cards. Simmons, though, is young enough to make Detroit better now and later. They won’t have the chance to sign a mid-20s talent like him. It’s never happened before and I don’t see why that would change in the future unless Cade blossoms into an alpha superstar. They would need to find creative ways to give Simmons room to operate — convincing him to play PF would help — but it would make life so much easier on Cade.

Acquiring Simmons isn’t about making something out of the 2021-22 team. It’s about boosting their chances of success in the future by adding a 25-year-old with the potential to be the best playmaker and defender on a title team.

... however, if stories like this prove to be true, forget everything I just said.

Ben Quagliata: I’m always a fan of Australians on the Pistons (#BringBackBaynes) but knowing his committed salary and price to get him I find it hard to be convinced that trading for him is the right move. Not that I think Jerami Grant is a better player but Grant represents such an important cultural shift for the Pistons from the old era into the new. Players rarely pick Detroit and especially not for the reasons Jerami did, so unless Grant gave his blessing I don’t think it would be a wise move to give him up for a real shot in the dark in Simmons.

Bryce Simon: As positive as I am about Ben Simmons and his game....I still have a hard time just answering yes to this. It would GREATLY depend on what the Sixers would ask for in return AND answers to some of the questions about his dedication to the game and whether he will be able to move on mentally from how last season ended.

Justin Lambregtse: For the right price, probably. However, I doubt a deal gets done without Jerami Grant, a young player, and a possible 1st round pick. At that point, my interest is lowered. I think Jerami Grant is a better fit for the team as currently constructed, and if the young player included was Killian Hayes, some of my concerns about spacing and offensive initiating would be lowered, but now you have to replace Jerami Grant with somebody who can space the floor, defend, and doesn’t need the ball.

As always, we want to hear from you. Answer in the comments!

1. Detroit has been rumored as a potential landing spot for Ben Simmons. In a vacuum, what are your feelings on Simmons and his overall game?

2. How do you think his style and specific set of skills would fit with Detroit’s core?

3. Would you be in favor of the Pistons trading for Ben Simmons? Why or why not?