Sixers: Ben Simmons fans, it’s time to consider trading for James Harden

Ben Simmons | Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons | Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Ben Simmlons fans, it’s time for the Philadelphia 76ers to consider trading the All-Star for Jamels Harden.

Ever since James Harden has requested to be traded from the Houston Rockets, I’ve held the position that the Philadelphia 76ers should not trade their All-Defensive team point guard in Ben Simmons for the former MVP.

I wrote about how it would cost the Sixers too much, I expounded on what a hypothetical Harden trade not involving Simmons would look like, and I even outlined a very strong argument against swapping Simmons for Harden on the whole. Well, all of that was before this season started and based on what has been seen thus far, I’ve come to the realization that my position needs to change on that front.

It should be noted the I had been thinking this way well before Harden’s most recent comments regarding the Rockets. However, those comments may help Philly negotiate any potential deal to land the All-NBA shooting guard.

Why the Sixers should now considering Simmons for Harden

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One of the strongest components to the anti-Simmons for Harden trades is that Ben has a major upside. Yes, he has the physical gifts to become the next LeBron James, however, as I wrote in the past, Simmons is slowly becoming more like Draymond Green than LeBron.

That itself isn’t bad, but he can’t be the second best player on a team and that team competing for a title. That’s exactly what has happened with Tobias Harris’ massive contract and now the Sixers can’t add a legit second fiddle to Joel Embiid. Being the third wheel to a title team is the best role for Simmons due to his lack of scoring aggression and his playmaking.

That has been even more evident this year. Simmons has always been a pass first player, but this season he has seen some major regression on offense. He’s averaging 12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.1 blocks, 3.8 turnovers, and 3.4 fouls, while converting 51.6 percent from the field, 50.0 percent on two 3-point attempts on the year, and 60.4 percent from the foul line.

His points, assists, and field goal percentage are at a career low, while his fouls and turnovers are at a career high. That’s not trending in the right direction and it shows a lack of aggression on offense that the team desperately needs. Especially because of the COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

Some would argue that the shorted offseason and a new head coach to learn from might attribute to these issues, there’s another one to consider.

I wrote in the past that it’s a strong possibility that Simmons’ left knee is starting to become a consistent problem. If this turns out to become true, then Simmons might join a long list of players never reaching their potential due to injury. If the front office and medical staff believe that is even a possibility, then trading him now while he has good value to help land a player like Harden would be a good choice.

Another thing for the 76er to consider is the potential of Tyrese Maxey. The rookie point guard has shown legit flashes of talent while the team’s roster has been ravaged by COVID-19. In three games as a starter, he’s averaged 23.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.7 turnovers, while shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and 26.7 percent from the 3-point line.

It should be noted the 39-point game Maxey had against the Denver Nuggets really did help bring up those stats, however, Maxey is showing potential. He still needs to continue to grow on defense and as a 3-point shooter, but he has all the tools.

Maxey will probably never become top-25 player like Simmons is, but having him in place in case the Sixers trade Simmons for Harden still puts Philly in a good place for the future.

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Simmons isn’t trending in the right direction in terms of his development and how he fits next to the Philadelphia 76ers’ other star in Joel Embiid. There’s could also be some concerns about his long-term health. Simmons fans might have to accept that this might be the peak of Simmons’ skills and abilities and unless he starts showing something different soon, it’s time to consider swapping him for Harden.