One of the most anticipated summer interviews came recently when Ben Simmons took JJ Redick to the Old Man and the Three podcast where they discussed various topics. Simmons had almost completely disappeared from public view for the past year and a half, failing to qualify for the Sixers’ 2021-22 season before being traded to the Nets on Deadline Date. Simmons was quite candid in the interview, touching on many controversial topics surrounding his play on the court and his relationship with Philadelphia. One issue Redick and Simmons addressed was the mindset of Sixers basketball’s “The Process” era and whether it can be considered a success.
While Joel Embiid embodies The Process in a way few other players could, Ben Simmons is just as connected to this era of Sixers basketball. He was the first number one overall in that era and the only one the franchise landed without having to move up (Markelle Fultz). Simmons and Embiid became the two cornerstones of the organization, taking the team to greater heights than was hoped during their four seasons together.
As Redick pointed out in the interview, the Sixers missed a number of picks during that time. While the mindset of accumulating as many picks as possible makes sense, it’s only effective when the picks become positive impact players. Looking back at the draft selections over time, names like Jahlil Okafor, Zhaire Smith, Nerlens Noel and Markelle Fultz had far less positive impact on the pitch compared to Simmons.
The current excellence of the networks is correct in terms of the process that changes the perspective of the organization. In the first full season Simmons and Embiid spent together, the Sixers’ record went from 28-54 in 2016-17 to 52-30 in 2017-18. They also weathered the five-year playoff drought in Simmons’ rookie year.
While the strides the Sixers have made since their historically poor seasons are remarkable, the jury is still out on calling them a success. Simmons is correct in his statement of the successful effort to “build Philly,” but the team has yet to reach the heights that the ultimate championship goal has yet reached. The kind of jump the team made was intentional based on the accumulation of assets that has occurred, and many are justifiably frustrated that it continues to not progress past the second round of the postseason.
Both Simmons and Redick also reflected on the 2018-19 postseason loss to the Toronto Raptors because Kawhi Leonard caught one of the biggest shots in NBA history. If the shot hadn’t been fired and the Sixers had progressed in that matchup, the narrative would certainly have been very different. This was undoubtedly Philadelphia’s best shot at a championship yet, and watching the Raptors take the title themselves after losing in the last second made it that much harder to swallow.
With Joel Embiid in the prime of his career and surrounded by his most complete roster yet, there’s still ample reason for optimism that The Process can be completed. The Sixers are certainly disappointed that Simmons hasn’t continued to grow with the organization and has been a part of future success. However, both sides have moved on after last year’s hectic split. The former No. It’s great to see Simmons taking stock of his time in the Sixers, but more battles between him and his former team are on the horizon.