No Ben Simmons, no problem: Joel Embiid is carrying Philly on his shoulders like a backpack

No Ben Simmons, no problem: Joel Embiid is carrying Philly on his shoulders like a backpack


Joel Embiid is carrying the 76ers without Ben Simmons.

Joel Embiid is carrying the 76ers without Ben Simmons.
Image: Getty Images

Unless you live in Philly, most of you probably haven’t paid much attention to the 76ers over the past four to six weeks. Philadelphia has been on quite the roll, winning 16 of their last 20 games since having their Dec. 19 game postponed against the New Orleans Pelicans due to COVID-19. Philly had struggled to stay afloat among the top six in the eastern conference to that point of the season. Today, the Sixers find themselves a half-game out of first place behind the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, who are locked in a tie for first. And it should come as no surprise that Joel Embiid is the guiding force behind the team’s turnaround.

Embiid has ripped through the league over the past couple of months, taking home the Player of the Month award in the East for December, and he was just named the Player of the Week to close out January. Joel’s recent play has him rising in the race for MVP as NBA.com currently has him ranked second behind reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic.

Embiid is putting the Sixers on his back and carrying them through the Eastern Conference. His former running mate Ben Simmons has not played a game this year, and most people outside of the 76ers front office don’t expect to ever see him in a Sixers uniform again. So, Embiid is on this current run with no other superstar in sight, and he’s been dominating pretty much any team they’ve crossed paths with lately. Less than two weeks ago, Embiid scored 50 points in 27 minutes played. That is second to only Klay Thompson, who scored 52 points in 27 minutes back in October of 2018. Saying Embiid’s been hot is an understatement at this point.

He’s gone scorched earth on the entire league.

Now would be the time for Daryl Morey to go ahead and get Simmons out of town since he does you no good sitting at home. Get whatever you can, within reason, and get more help for Joel. Embiid is playing like a mad man averaging 29.1ppg (career-high), 10.8rpg, and 4.4apg (career-high). Asking him to carry so much of the load all year won’t be conducive to them competing for a title.

This year, it’ll be one hell of a race down the stretch for MVP between Jokic, Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’ll be close, but Embiid has as good a case as any for taking home his first MVP trophy. Based on what Joel has done the past two months, he’d be my pick if the season ended today.

I just hope Morey and the Sixers; front office come to their senses and quit holding out for a Simmons return to the team. It ain’t happening. Don’t waste Embiid’s prime being stubborn and wanting to win all the time with your analytics talk. Oh, that’s right, Morey hasn’t won anything with his analytics yet. It certainly didn’t win him anything in Houston, and the jury is still out in Philly, obviously. Get the right pieces in there to replace Simmons, and Joel could be holding more than one trophy in his arms by the end of the season.



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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.