Ever since the rumors started swirling about the possibility of LeBron bringing his talents to South Philly, I’ve been fascinated with the idea of pairing the GOAT with the up-and-coming GOAT in Ben Simmons. But as the season unfolded, and the Sixers started to dominate down the stretch, they’ve proved to me that their time to win is right now and that they may not need anyone else. Embiid even said this during the Miami series, and if he believes it why shouldn’t we?
If the Sixers were to pursue a superstar in the offseason, I don’t even think LeBron would be their number one target. Whether people like to admit it or not, the Sixers front office is very smart, and they realize that the team runs through Ben Simmons. They’re not going to go after someone who has the exact same skill set, and would essentially play the same role as Simmons — which is exactly what LeBron would do.
Just look how bad OKC is struggling right now. On paper, they have one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the league. But their big 3; Westbrook, Paul George, and Melo, are all basically the same type of player. They all play iso ball and need the ball in their hands to create offense. That’s why they’re one of the worst assist teams in the NBA. Whoever dribbles the ball up the court is pretty much guaranteed to take the shot as well.
Now, I understand there are certain situations where ball-dominant players can work together and succeed. James Harden and Chris Paul are both very ball-dominant point guards and they’ve managed to work just fine together on their way to the number 1 seed in the West. But, what allows those two to work so well together is their versatility and ability to play off the ball. Harden is the best offensive player in the league right now and he can create offense in a multitude of different ways. Both he and Chris Paul are knock-down three point shooters. LeBron isn’t this versatile offensively and would struggle to play off the ball — assuming he’s even willing to try. It wouldn’t be impossible, but with the way LeBron is playing right now I don’t think he’s going to want to take a back seat to Simmons. I don’t see him changing his game up like that going into year 17. And we know Simmons has no value spacing the floor.
There’s just not room for LeBron on this team, it’s as simple as that. Ben Simmons is our LeBron. I’ve heard people say that if LeBron comes here that he would mentor Simmons and that Simmons would become even better than he is right now. I tend to think the opposite would happen. I think if LeBron came here it would most likely stunt Simmons’ growth. Bringing in someone who would take the ball out of Ben’s hands for extended periods of time like LeBron wouldn’t benefit him at all.
Above all else, LeBron has 2-3 dominant seasons left at the most. He’s not a long-term answer, and with how young this Sixers squad is it just seems silly to bring in an old LeBron who will only give us another couple years of greatness. This team is built for the long-term; it’s not like we have an old Simmons and Embiid and they’re just missing that one piece to get them over the hump. If the Sixers’ brass decides to pair a superstar with their two budding stars, it’ll have to be someone who is younger and can play with this team for years to come.
If they decide to go that route, I think they’ll target someone who I touched upon earlier – Paul George. While OKC did fight to see another day last night in their game 6 victory over the Jazz, I still don’t think PG will return to keep playing with Westbrook. Like I said earlier, the big 3 on that team all play the same type of basketball, and it’s not winning basketball. Sure, his stats may be insane if he continues his career in OKC, but he’ll never win a championship there. PG would be a perfect fit in Philly; he can create his own shot, he’s a knock down shooter, he’s a great two-way player, and he can play off the ball as a wing. The Sixers currently don’t have anyone who can really play iso-ball and create their own shot other than occasionally Markelle Fultz. I could easily see PG having the best year of his career if he comes to Philly. He would have so many open shots playing with Simmons and Embiid it would almost be unfair. Unlike LeBron, PG doesn’t need the ball in his hands constantly, so he wouldn’t really be taking the ball out of Simmons’ hands (or Embiid for that matter) unless he’s trying to iso someone.
Not to mention PG is a great defender and is ideally suited covering guards. Say the Sixers end up facing Kyrie and the Celtics next season in the playoffs, as of right now they don’t have anyone who would be able to cover him. While Covington and Simmons would supplement the assignment, they are more suited covering their natural postions at the 3 or 4. Insert Paul George into the lineup, and it’s a completely different story. He’s versatile enough defensively to cover guards and he would be shadowing Kyrie that entire series. Although LeBron is a decent defender, he has never been known to lock down guards. So again, PG would be a much better fit than LeBron. There hasn’t been much talk about the possibility of Paul George coming here, but that could change very quickly if the Thunder get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
Regardless of what happens in the offseason, there’s a very real possibility that the Sixers get to the Finals this season. If that happens, don’t expect them to go after anyone in the offseason. They’ll most likely stick to what they have and continue to let them mature as a team.