We’ve all heard the trade rumors surrounding Ben Simmons as the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to dabble in discussions for the combustible point guard.
There are a number of trades that could work to acquire Simmons, from a package centered around D’Angelo Russell or a combination of Taurean Prince, Malik Beasley, and a slew of draft picks.
But, would trading for Simmons even be in the Wolves’ best interests?
The Minnesota Timberwolves should not trade for Ben Simmons
On paper, it sounds terrific. Simmons is a three-time All-Star, two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team, led the league in steals in 2019-20, and the accolades go on.
Yet, this would be a bad trade for the up-and-coming Wolves as Simmons’ lack of leadership would be a recipe for disaster in the Twin Cities.
Simmons has averaged more assists than Russell for their respective careers and arguably would find more open looks for Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and Co., but in four NBA seasons, he has not demonstrated the ability to keep expanding his game.
Simmons has been criticized by his coach (Doc Rivers), teammates (Joel Embiid), and former NBA greats (Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley) for his lackadaisical play in the playoffs, particularly his unwillingness to shoot in the fourh quarter.
Against the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons did not take a shot in the fourth quarter in the final four playoff games, including the infamous non-dunk heard ’round the world.
One of the reasons that make Giannis Antetokounmpo and other less capable shooters great is their resiliency in continuing to shoot, even on off nights. In Antetokounmpo’s case, he’ll keep shooting regardless of throwing up bricks from beyond the arc or shooting airballs from the free throw line.
If the opposing team can sense when your confidence has waned, then you’re essentially playing four-on-five, which is exactly what happened in the playoffs for the 76ers.
Simmons simply did not want to shoot the ball, whether it was driving it down the lane for a layup or looking for open jumpers; the last thing on his mind was scoring. For his career, he’s put up 16.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game.
One of the most intriguing stats is his staggering ability to get easy buckets. Last season, he shot 55.7 percent from the field with nearly 91 percent of those field goals coming from inside 10 feet.
At 6-foot-9 with the skill-set perfect for a point guard and the ability to get to the rim at will, Simmons has the talent to average a triple-double across a season but he’s just not willing to put effort to improve his game. For a Wolves organization that is in stark need of an identity, having only made the playoffs once in the past 17 years, Simmons arguably lacks the desire to lead, and potentially to help this team grow.
He refuses to shoot 3-pointers or and outside jumpers and is a terrible free throw shooter (59.7 percent for his career), making his game predictable and extremely one-dimensional. He either drives to the basket for a layup or dishes it off. It gets worse in the playoffs, as Simmons’ scoring output has dipped under double-digits per game.
Also puzzling is his reluctance to shoot from beyond the arc; Simmons has only attempted two 3-pointers in his playoffs career.
Trading for Simmons seemingly does not add anything to the Wolves. He doesn’t make the team faster, and won’t necessarily give his teammates better looks. Posting on Instagram that he’s making 3-pointers in a pickup game does not mean he’s going to hit open jumpers in the NBA.
Factor in the cost in assets that it would take to land Simmons, and such an acquisition simply doesn’t seem to be a good idea.
More than anything, Simmons is reticent to lead by example. If anything, the same problems that Simmons faced in Philadelphia would likely only persist in Minnesota.