Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
The Ben Simmons foot injury is just the latest setback for the 76ers franchise and there has already been enough analysis of the injury itself and how it affects the morale of the franchise. So instead, here are five ramifications for the Sixers on the court after the Simmons injury.
1) Dario Saric: Next Man Up
– Ben Simmons was already such a rare talent in his own right with his immense size and off the charts passing ability. That’s a rare commodity that’s tough to replace, but luckily the Sixers already have someone on their team who can fill in some of those gaps: Dario Saric. It appears that Saric will be starting in place of Simmons at the four next to Joel Embiid, and on the surface not much will change on the offensive end of the floor. Saric won’t initiate offensive sets like Simmons but he will be given free reign to push the ball up the court himself with his great court awareness and passing ability. Sixers fan will be able to see how effectively Saric compliments the other Sixer big men and if his jump shot can translate to the NBA. His outside shot will be a key factor in determining how well the Sixers can play in Simmons’ absence.
2) Jerami Grant Moves Back to the Four
With the lack of depth on the perimeter and the influx of talent on the inside, Brett Brown had planned to play Jerami Grant at the three spot. With no Simmons, however, Grant slides back over to the four spot, where he is much better suited in today’s NBA. Grant shot a woeful 24% from three last season and his best traits aren’t utilized if he stays out on the perimeter. His best role is as a four-man who can protect the rim as an effective help side/weakside defender.
3) TJ’s Spot is Safe
– The late signing of Elton Brand created some controversy into who would be the last cut between Brand, Richaun Holmes, Nik Stauskas, Hollis Thompson, and TJ McConnell. With no Simmons, TJ’s spot on the team now seems solidified. Expect TJ to get some major run in the next few months.
4) “The El Chacho Show”
– Without Ben Simmons, Jerry Bayless is pushed into a primary ball handler role, even though he’s most effective as an off-ball option. Bayless has never been that effective creating offensive, so that makes Sergio Rodriguez that much more important moving forward. “El Chacho” will be tasked to be the primary playmaker for the Sixers in Simmons’ absence. He is very effective at running the pick-and-roll and knows how to set up his teammates well on the perimeter. His 1-on-1 defense might be the worst in the NBA, but Sixers fans will fall in love with what El Chacho provides on the offensive end of the floor.
5) No Big Man Trade (for Now)
– Even with the Nerlens Noel comments on Media Day, there never seemed to be a rush to trade any of the three young centers, at least according to Bryan Colangelo. With an injury to one of the team’s bigger players, it seems even less likely that a deal will happen until Simmons returns. One reason is that it’s tough to gauge the talent and chemistry of the team without the #1 overall pick on the floor. The other reason is that the team needs some extra size while the 6’10 forward is on the shelf. So even while a trade will eventually happen, nothing seems imminent.
The Sixers should be able to get by in the short term without Simmons, with the additions of Dario, Embiid, Gerald Henderson, Bayless, and Sergio, but this a major loss for fan morale. The fan base has been yearning to move forward and this injury is yet another set back, but hopefully things will be okay until Ben Simmons comes back in 2017. As Joel Embiid keeps saying, Trust the Process.