Is It Time To Break Up The Process?
The Sixers have already lost all-star Ben Simmons to injury, forcing him to leave the Orlando bubble, and Joel Embiid had to leave Sunday's game against the Trail Blazers with an ankle injury.
Embiid appeared to roll his ankle while stepping on the basketball stanchion, while trying to block a shot on Sunday night.
"That was a fluke injury for Joel," said ESPN senior writer Jackie MacMullan on ESPN's 'Get Up'.
But its another injury to the Sixers big man, who has suffered a myriad of them since being drafted No. 3 overall back in 2014. Simmons also missed some time due to back injury this season, and missed his entire rookie year due to a broken foot.
The duo has combined to play in 465 games while missing a total of 375 games, including the playoffs, leaving some to wonder if its time to move on from their young core.
While it is a fair question to raise, I had a text message debate with a friend about this very topic after Simmons injury last week. He texted me that the 'Process' was an epic failure, to which I disagreed, stating that while mistakes were made and it wasn't done perfect, the team is still very young, stating that some of the games very best players have waited their turn before capturing their first NBA title.
"I would not break up Embiid and Simmons, not on my watch," MacMullan stated.
While neither players individual talent should be questioned, both are NBA all-stars and have tremendous talent. However, their ability to play together sometimes is fractured by Simmons' unwillingness to shoot in the half-court, which is magnified more by the teams overall lack of perimeter game.
Other than J.J. Redick, the team has not really supplied much three-point shooting or spacing around the two players during their tenure together.
"I understand why people are frustrated in Philadelphia, but these two players proved that they could play together last year," MacMullan continued. "The lack of perimeter shooting this year surrounding them has only exacerbated the problems that they run into when teams start jamming them into a half-court. "
"You are talking about two young players who have yet to reach their prime, who I think are both going to end up being Hall of Famers."
The way these two players were acquired opens the door for fans to scrutinize both the duo and the team. People's reasoning seems to be since the team essentially had three lost seasons on the court to acquire the players, the players should provide instant gratification - which of course is irrational thinking.
It takes time. Find a team where their two best players are also their youngest, and you see a team that is inconsistent. Veterans win the NBA. LeBron James NBA seasons to finally capture his first title. Kevin Durant won his first title in his 11th NBA season.
ESPN's Kendrick Perkins, a 14-year NBA player and 2008 NBA champion while with the Boston Celtics, agrees its not time to break up the Sixers party.
"I'm not breaking up Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons," Perkins said on 'Get Up'. Both of these guys are generational talents and both of these guys are young studs, they haven't even reached their prime."
"I'm keeping these two young studs together and I'm going to find a way to make it work," Perkins continued.
While the Sixers are frustrating, they we must keep in perspective how young they are and the lack of continuity around them.
Take Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league MVP is currently in his seventh season, and has yet to win a title. He has been playing with the same core group of guys, which was built around his unique talents. Kris Middleton is a all-star shooter, and they have a ton of perimeter guys to help take of teams that sag on Antetokounmpo.
Most teams don't reach the pinnacle for their superstar players til about year seven. If the Sixers are still hanging around the upper-echelon, but not reaching their lofty expectations by then, maybe we can revisit this conversation.