Welcome back to another entry in the “Worst Sixers Starters” article series. Last month, I wrote about the 6 Worst Starters of the Allen Iverson era. This time, we dive into the Joel Embiid era, and the notable difference is this era is still ongoing. Embiid joined the team during “The Process” though so he played with some questionable NBA players in his relatively short career with the Sixers.
Similar to my previous article, the criteria we outlined for a “starter” was having started 20 games during a season with the Sixers. First up, likely controversial, is Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons (2020-21)
Simmons was a polarizing figure during his tenure with the Sixers and his departure was celebrated across the city of Philadelphia. In fairness though, we have to acknowledge the good as well as the bad. The good of Simmons is he was a Rookie of the Year, 3-time All-Star, 2-time All-Defense, 1-time All-NBA, and 1-time steal leader. That is an impressive resume for a 27-year-old in the league, so how exactly does he end up on this list?
Well, in contrast to many of the other Sixers’ players on this list, Simmons lands on it when you consider the whole person. Yes, at 6’10” and with God-given athletic gifts, Simmons had a head start in the basketball realm. But he never learned to be a good teammate and never improved his game from what it was when he was drafted into the NBA in 2017.
An NBA point guard who cannot shoot the ball is a huge liability.
It was not just he could not shoot three-pointers, his mid-range game was just as poor and defenders were legitimately guarding him by standing 10 feet away in the paint daring him to shoot the ball. This was the complete opposite of what is needed for someone playing alongside Joel Embiid as opposing teams could essentially double him in the paint.
In 2020-21, Simmons last year in Philly, he averaged career-lows in points, rebounds, and assists per game. He was his worst in his fourth year on the court and that again speaks to a lack of commitment to improving his game. Simmons’ personality and constant deflecting of responsibility made him a bad teammate and landed him on the list of worst starters with Embiid.