With the Philadelphia 76ers having two All-Star caliber players in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, it’s not surprising that an offer sheet has been sent to Boston for their former number one pick. It will be interesting to see if this trade actually happens now with the Celtics finalizing a deal with Kyrie Irving.
The Boston Celtics have a path to a franchise-altering Ben Simmons trade, but it would cost them a valuable young all-star and more. The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly willing to offer the third overall pick in this year’s draft for the talented point guard.
Last season, the Boston Celtics dropped out of the Eastern Conference’s top, ending 36–36 and having to qualify for the play-in round. Their punishment was a thrashing by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. Last season may not have been a one-off, given Boston’s 4–6 start to the 2021–22 season. Could Ben Simmons help the Celtics fix some of their issues?
On the surface, Boston is a poor shooter. Their 33.2 percent 3-point shooting is good enough for 20th place in the NBA. Simmons does not directly aid with this, although he may assist in other ways, such as locating open shooters. The cost of obtaining Simmons, on the other hand, may be exorbitant.
The Boston Celtics are moving the ball, but they aren’t doing it efficiently.
Marcus Smart, the Boston Celtics’ point guard, recently chastised the two stars for not sharing the ball. In Boston, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the primary scorers. Smart may have missed the target with Tatum, who has a 16.0 percent assist rate, which is similar to Smart’s. Brown, on the other hand, only had an assist 12.9 percent of the time, which is the lowest among the Celtics’ first-unit perimeter players.
With 22.9 assists per game, Boston is 17th in the NBA, and their assist rate of 57.7% is also in the middle of the pack (16th). The Celtics, on the other hand, have more issues than simply getting the ball to shooters. Those shooters aren’t hitting their targets. With a 50.3 percent effective field goal percentage, Boston is ranked 25th in the league. While this isn’t a guarantee of future success, it’s worth mentioning that the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Detroit Pistons are four of the teams ahead of them. They have a collective 8–30 record.
Last season, Ben Simmons led the Philadelphia 76ers to a 57.2 percent assist rate, which was good for 23rd in the NBA. However, their eFG of 54.1 percent placed them 14th. It doesn’t matter whether you pass the ball; what matters is that you do it on time and on aim. Simmons has always been a pro at this.
The Celtics rank 13th in the NBA with 289.5 passes per game. Boston ranks 11th in the league with 48.3 potential assists off those passes. Their pass-to-assist ratio of 7.9 is good for 20th place. There’s a chasm in the system.
Simply stated, when they’re open, they’re not making shots. The Celtics have a 50.8 percent success rate on wide-open shots (nearest defender at least six feet away). That places them 26th in the league. That percentage is 32.6 percent on wide-open 3s, which ranks 27th. With 19.3 wide-open 3s per game, they rank sixth in the league. If Boston averages 37.1 percent, it will gain extra 12–15 points each game. Things aren’t looking so bad now.
Ben Simmons will come with a hefty price tag.
Would the Boston Celtics actually trade Jaylen Brown (7) to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons (25)? | Getty Images/Drew Hallowell
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the 76ers president of basketball operations wants Jaylen Brown to be the first asset in any Ben Simmons deal.
Brown was selected third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, two picks behind Simmons. Brown was acquired by the Boston Celtics with one of the draft selections acquired from the Brooklyn Nets in the much-maligned 2013 transaction that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn.
Simmons has a more impressive resume. He has three All-Star appearances, two All-Defensive selections, and was chosen to the NBA Third Team in 2019–20. In 2021, Brown made his first All-Star appearance.
Brown, on the other hand, was averaging a career-high 25.6 points per game and shooting at career-best levels until injuring his hamstring in a victory against Miami on Nov. 4. (49.3 percent overall and 39.7 percent from 3-point range). Simmons’ Achilles heel is shooting. This season, Brown has 58 deep attempts in eight games, considerably above Simmons’ career total of 34. When you consider that Simmons has only made five of them, his ability to help Boston spread the floor is questionable.
He’s also a ball-dominant player, which may not be a good match for Tatum.
It’s also worth mentioning that, contrary to Charania’s story, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reported on Twitter that the Celtics had not approached the 76ers about Simmons.
So there may be Brown-Simmons discussions. Perhaps there aren’t any.
Why are the Boston Celtics adamant about not trading Brown?
Jaylen Brown is a budding talent who continues to develop. Ben Simmons is at a crossroads in his career. Those things alone should cause Boston Celtics head of basketball operations Brad Stevens to think twice about signing Simmons.
When you consider that Brown is the same age as Simmons and has a more team-friendly deal, you have to wonder whether Stevens will face a barrage of questions from the Boston media.
Brown is in the second year of a four-year, $107 million contract that he signed in October of this year. He’ll be paid $24.8 million this season, $26.7 million in 2022–23, and $28.5 million in 2023–24 before becoming an unrestricted free agency after that.
Simmons, on the other hand, signed a five-year, $169.7 million supermax deal in July 2019. So he’s not just more costly, but his contract is also for a year longer (a plus or a minus, depending on perspective).
Simmons’ wages will be $31.6 million, $33.9 million, $36.3 million, and $38.6 million for the following four years.
So a straight-up Simmons for Brown deal isn’t going to happen, particularly given Morey wants to win a possible Simmons trade. For salary-cap considerations, the deal works, but not for practical ones. Morey is looking for draft selections and young players.
Morey is expected to stay there until December 15, when a slew of free-agent acquisitions from the previous offseason become tradeable. His choices will be much expanded as a result of this. Furthermore, the longer Morey has Simmons, the more probable it is that a club looking to make a postseason run would be prepared to spend to obtain Simmons to help them achieve that objective.
In terms of the Boston Celtics, Stevens should be wary about trading reliable Jaylen Brown for unpredictable Ben Simmons.
Basketball Reference and NBA.com provided the statistics.
The Boston Celtics are paying a high price for Brad Stevens’ shoddy roster construction, but there is a costly fix.
The “ben simmons rookie year” is a story that has been talked about for years. The Boston Celtics have had the opportunity to make an all-star caliber trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, but it would cost them a valuable young player and more.
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