Playing It Safe
The 76ers conservative approach to nurturing their young prospects back to health is smart for more reasons than just assuring they’re ready to return physically. Although this season is technically Joel Embiid’s rookie year he has been a member of the team for several years already and that has benefited him immensely. Before even playing a game against other NBA players, he got to be a part of an NBA team and everything that comes with that. He got to go through professional weight training, professional coaching staff and trainers and every other aspect of a professional team’s staff before seeing action. This gave him a huge advantage. It allowed him to learn the game, be around the game, get stronger, conditioned and prepared in every sense of the word. All of the productive tools and resources built Joel from an already potential oozing player to one of the most promising big man talents in the league, dominating from his first game on. It seams like the 76ers have adhered to this type of strategy but on a smaller scale for new prospect Ben Simmons. He won’t miss the multiple seasons like Joel and have as much time to take advantage of resources or transform physically like Embiid, but he will be exposed to similar treatment. Simmons’ return date has been up in the air all year long and it’s still yet to be scheduled in stone. The Sixers management is not hugely concerned about this either because first and foremost you want to make sure he’s healthy and second they’re teaching him basketball. Coach Brent Brown and his staff are working with Ben to learn the game, and help him become even more of a student of the game. They’ve gone through this strategy multiple times over in recent years with both Nerlens Noel and Joel, that they’re confident in it and the added time to mature the young talent before they debut is beneficial. It prepares them mentally and physically better than they would’ve been. Since Simmons injured his foot and would not be participating in practices or playing on it that sets aside time for him to absorb knowledge and improve his mental and intangibles, rather than being focused on workouts the coaching staff can be productive in this time and capitalize on the opportunity for added development. When the time does come for Simmons to return to the court this preparation should result in him shining even brighter than he would’ve and again proving that the approach the Sixers took with Embiid is an effective one, and Ben Simmons will be the second example of it’s success.