The NBA had a slight transition in 2019, when the ‘Big Three’ era virtually dissolved and tandems suddenly became the norm again.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, however, their version of the trend arrived earlier. As soon as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons finally took the floor together in 2017, it was clear that they’re going to be a legit 1-2 punch.
Having such caliber of stars is always exciting, and it’s something that new Sixers general manager Daryl Morey is quite hyped about. He said as much while on a Reddit AMA earlier this week.
“Both Ben (24) and Joel (26) are superstar players in the peak of their prime. It is actually very rare to find examples where this is the case and it usually leads to something special. If you compare Ben and Joel to historic comparable players there is obviously no perfect comparison for either but both have a high probability to be in the top players of all time given how they have started and their age.”Daryl Morey
Morey knows a thing or two about witnessing elite talent. In the 17 years prior, he’s had stints with the Boston Celtics (2003-2006), and, more notably, the Houston Rockets (2006-2020), where he had All-Stars like Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, James Harden, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook.
He made room for youngsters too, as his past regimes helped grew Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Delonte West, Aaron Brooks, Patrick Beverley, and Chandler Parsons, among others.
Now that he’s in a new phase, there’s indeed a lot to be pumped about. Embiid is a dominating, high-scoring big man with a plethora of post moves and an ever-improving outside stroke. Simmons, meanwhile, is a stat-stuffing, 6’10, two-way point guard that has great court vision and attack downhill.
Hopefully, though, this current Sixers can evolve further and avoid the same fate that Morey’s former teams did. The Celtics were only an average team at best under his watch, while the Rockets were a good team that became elite but unfortunately choked or underachieved in consecutive seasons.
It’s very much like the Sixers over the last two seasons, as well as the team’s new coach Doc Rivers, who’s also had a ton of playoff shortcomings – he and Morey worked together in Boston too.
For now, the upcoming campaign is looking well. Morey and his staff made a handful of encouraging moves in free agency, ones that’s deemed to boost Embiid and Simmons’s presence. They were able to trade Al Horford and his rough contract, and also added key necessary pieces, such as three-point specialist Danny Green, and scoring combo guards Seth Curry and rookie Tyrese Maxey. He also signed his former Rockets big man, Dwight Howard, to be Embiid’s back-up.
The 2020-21 NBA season is sure to be an interesting year for Embiid, Simmons, Morey, and Rivers, as all four are focused on redemption and gaining more respect.