A lot has been made of the fact that Ben Simmons likes to push the ball while Joel Embiid is more comfortable in a slow, halfcourt offense. Can the two co-exist successfully, or will one of them have to leave the Philadelphia 76ers? Here is a look at a history of similar pairings.
It is no secret that Ben Simmons is not as effective playing at a slow pace. When the fast break is not available, he does not have many other offensive quivers in his bow. We know shooting more than five-feet from the basket is simply not going to happen.
Leading the fast break is not Joel Embiid‘s specialty. As he showed in the All-Star Game (in which coach Nick Nurse had him play the whole fourth quarter), even the top players in the game cannot stop him when he posts up and goes hard to the hoop.
The 7-foot-2 Cameroonian has an OK shot from three-point land (33.6 percent, a shade under the league average of 35 percent) and is the best free throw shooter on the team.
So Simmons is best running a fast-paced offense while Embiid shines in ‘bully bull’ and in the halfcourt.
That has caused some people to think that the pair, who are in their third season together, cannot coexist with such a divergent styles of play, that one of them is going to be given eventually the heave-ho.
Considering Embiid is older, has a long injury history and his contract is up earlier, he would be the prime candidate for a trade, if the Sixers had to choose.
But Embiid at the all-star game media day was emphatic when asked about whether he might be unable to play with Simmons: “That’s BS”.
The best way to see if the Philadelphia 76ers‘ future of Embiid/Simmons will be bright might be to look at the NBA past. This is not the first time a dominant post player has been paired with a point guard who shines best in the open court.
Here are some examples when a twosome like Simmons/Embiid led to a team far in the playoffs: