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Joel Embiid defends Ben Simmons, says ‘it’s on me’ that Philadelphia 76ers haven’t won NBA title

The Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons appear headed for a divorce, but Joel Embiid apparently doesn’t want to see the dynamic floor general go elsewhere.

As he’s wont to do, Embiid took to social media to publicly express his thoughts amid the Simmons drama, indicating that he loves playing with the 25-year-old former No. 1 overall pick:

What really pops out about Embiid’s comments is his accountability for the Sixers falling short of winning a championship during the course of his career.

Embiid saying “it’s on me personally” is quite an admission, and one most Philly fans — or anyone in the NBA realm for that matter — would likely agree with.

Despite dealing with yet another injury-plagued season, Embiid still finished second in MVP voting and gutted through pain during the postseason to dominate, averaging 28.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and one steal per contest.

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The problem was, Simmons didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, and has failed to be a true second superstar next to Embiid to carry the franchise to an NBA title. Philly’s dynamic duo hasn’t even gotten the team past the conference semifinals.

Simmons has requested a trade, and seems to be perpetually putting off an earnest effort to fix his broken shooting stroke, which saw him hit only 34.2% from the free throw line during the 2021 NBA playoffs.

Joel Embiid doesn’t need to go to bat for Ben Simmons, and shouldn’t want to

Again, commend the four-time All-Star Embiid for having Simmons’ back. They are teammates after all — at least for now.

Regardless of how well Embiid and Simmons get along, though, it’s pretty clear that in the modern NBA, you need a legitimate superstar on the perimeter who can keep a defense honest with 3-point shooting. Otherwise, a championship seems all but unattainable.

Simmons has a track record of shrinking on the biggest stages, whereas Embiid thrives on them. The latter also embraces the tough-love nature of Philadelphia fans, whereas Simmons seems to have been broken by them.

While one can empathize to some degree with Simmons’ plight, it’s on him for not being a better shooter. Maybe he’s working harder than anyone realizes and simply can’t get it done. That’s not the widespread perception, however.

See where Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have the Sixers rated in our NBA defensive rankings

Ben Simmons is the perfect trade chip and a bad fit for Philadelphia 76ers’ future

Ben Simmons is the perfect trade chip and a bad fit for Philadelphia 76ers' future
Jun 2, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (L) talks with guard Ben Simmons (R) before game five in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Washington Wizards at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers GM Daryl Morey recognizes that Simmons’ skill set and apparent unwillingness to develop his jumper are at odds with how basketball is played at the highest level. While Morey has routinely pushed the concept of analytics to extremes, he’s long valued 3-point shooting more than most other talent evaluators.

As defensively versatile and gifted as Simmons is, his lacking jump shot and inability to nail clutch free throws makes him a poor fit for Morey’s vision of a championship-caliber roster.

The argument could be made that Philadelphia could make like the Milwaukee Bucks, who just won a championship, and stick with their core as is, counting on their best players to keep developing.

On the other hand, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a one-of-one player with a tireless work ethic, and Simmons’ reputation doesn’t suggest he has that same drive.

Simmons’ upside, his falling out of favor with the organization and fans and his lacking fit as an offensive player make him the perfect trade candidate.

The Sixers will get a considerable haul for Simmons, and should have the means to vault into championship contention without sacrificing too much defensively, thanks to Embiid’s elite play on that end of the court.

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