Ben Simmons’ fitness and future remains clouded but his fluctuating season has finished on a high after he became the first Australian to be awarded NBA All-Defensive First Team honours.
Simmons largely had a forgettable 2020-2021 campaign after a knee injury prematurely ended his season as his 76ers bombed out in the first round of the playoffs to prompt coach Brett Brown’s sacking.
For all the negatives, the Melbourne-born power forward was a standout for the Sixers this season – averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Simmons led the league in steals per game and improved further on the defensive end to earn his first All-NBA defensive honour.
He was joined by Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Rudy Gobert, and Marcus Smart.
Remarkably, Simmons received 88 First Team votes, and 185 overall points, placing him just two points behind Los Angeles Lakers megastar Davis.
He becomes the second Australian to make an All-NBA Defensive Team after Andrew Bogut was named in the Second Team All-Defense in 2015 with the Golden State Warriors.
Despite Simmons’ strong defensive season, rumours that the 24-year-old star could be traded from Philadelphia continue to persist.
According to reports in the US, the Sixers were open to trading Simmons or fellow All-Star Joel Embiid if the franchise failed in the post season.
Now that has happened, it will be fascinating to see if Philadelphia act on their trade promise.
Simmons is in the first year of a five-year, $170 million deal at Philadelphia.
With Brown no longer coaching the 76ers, he has also lost one of his biggest supporters and this could play a role.
Back in August, Chris Fedor from Cleveland.com wrote: “Simmons. He‘s the one to watch. One executive who spoke with cleveland.com believes the Sixers will need to choose between Simmons and Joel Embiid — if Philly has an earlier-than-expected playoff exit.
“The Cavs believe they have enough to assemble an enticing package, especially with recent first-rounders littering the roster, a top six pick coming in October and a future first from the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Those picks, combined with one of the young guys and some salary filler, is a good start.”
There’s no denying Simmons’ talents, but the question remains – can Simmons and Embiid work together in the same team?
That is what Philadelphia officials needs to work out, and promptly to deliver the sports mad city the results they desire.
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