Like it or not, the Boston Celtics are the perfect fit for Ben Simmons

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics is defended by Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics is defended by Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics are gearing up to kick off their 2021-22 regular season in short order. While they have a solid roster put together that looks much better than it did last season, it feels like they are missing one final piece in order to become a championship contender. That piece could very well be unhappy Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons.

In case you missed it, a report came out today that Ben Simmons isn’t going to be reporting to the 76ers training camp next week, and is intent on never wearing a 76ers uniform ever again. This is huge news that has rocked the NBA, as Simmons rumors have been swirling all summer long, and they have finally come to a head.

For all intents and purposes, it looks like Simmons time in Philadelphia is over. For all the jokes made about Simmons’ lack of shooting and what not, he’s been a crucial piece of Philadelphia’s recent contenders, and they will probably find out sooner rather than later just how big of an impact he had.

For Celtics fans that have been looking for the team to acquire a star player to pair up with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Simmons may just be the perfect fit. If Philadelphia wasn’t looking to trade him beforehand, they probably are now, although they certainly will have to readjust their asking price now. There probably isn’t a player out there who fits the bill for what the Celtics need more so than Simmons, and now that he’s presumably available, they need to make an effort to get him.

Ben Simmons could be the missing piece the Boston Celtics are looking for

For those not sold on Simmons as a player, I get it. He struggled mightily during the 76ers season ending series against the Atlanta Hawks, and was clearly rattled by the Hawks willingly fouling him in order to send him to the free throw line. Simmons shooting has always been a sore spot, and if that’s all you are looking for from him, he’s obviously going to disappoint.

What Simmons lacks in shooting, however, he makes up for in just about every other aspect of his game. He’s a skilled finisher at the rim, can guard any position on the floor, and can initiate the offense, all as a 6’11 guard.

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Simmons is a unicorn in the NBA, in that he is basically the height of a center, but is agile enough where he can function as a guard. Unfortunately for Simmons, his skillset bucks the trend the NBA is heading towards. Shooting has never been more important in the NBA, and Simmons just simply cannot shoot. As a result, he’s had an abundance of critics from the moment he set foot on the court in the NBA.

Simmons skills have been somewhat canceled out by fellow 76ers star Joel Embiid. Embiid has developed into a scorer at all three levels of the floor, but he operates primarily in the paint, which is where Simmons obviously works too. As a result, Simmons skillset was never fully appreciated in Philly, and it’s not really a surprise he wants out at this point.

The thing is, the Boston Celtics happen to be looking for exactly what Simmons offers. Sure his shooting issues aren’t ideal, but if he’s playing alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they really don’t need him to shoot the ball. In fact, what they need is someone who can help get Tatum and Brown open, especially considering defenses were allowed to key in on them last season.

Simmons would be the perfect candidate to do that. He can get to the rim when he feels like it, and when defenses shrink into the paint to stop him, that opens up shots at the three point line that Tatum and Brown would gladly take. Some players don’t have the ability to make those passes, but Simmons is not one of those players.

Despite his height, Simmons is one of the better passers in the game. He averaged 6.9 assists per game last season, which was the lowest of his career. He typically will get close to double digits on a nightly basis, which is something the Celtics didn’t have on their roster last season, and is something they don’t really have heading into this season either.

Supposedly Marcus Smart will be the solution to the Boston Celtics playmaking woes, but that seems a bit far-fetched if you ask me. In fairness, I’ve been known to be on the anti-Marcus Smart train for some time now, but there’s nothing in his game that makes me believe he’s the answer to Boston’s point guard problem. Maybe he cuts down on his wild shot selection, but it’s definitely a risk rolling into the season with Smart as the starting point guard.

Simmons offers the Celtics an ideal point guard to run their offense. He’s pass first, which is necessary in an offense with Tatum and Brown. He will look for his shot too, but more often than not, he hits them. He shot 55.7 percent from the field last season, largely a result of his shot diet coming from primarily in the paint.

If Simmons is to be traded to the Boston Celtics, Smart is probably one of the key pieces heading back to Philadelphia. In fairness, Smart probably fits the 76ers system better than he does Boston’s, as they are looking for willing three point shooters to play around Embiid and Tobias Harris. As we all know, Smart is a willing shooter if nothing else.

Smart’s calling card has always been defense, but his production seemed to hit a wall last season. Simmons meanwhile is a yearly Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and there isn’t a more versatile defender in the league. He’s also a solid rebounder considering he’s 6’11, and it’s tough to find a flaw in his defensive efforts.

Whereas we are hoping Smart develops into the point guard the Celtics are looking for, Simmons has proven to already be that guy. This isn’t a smear campaign against Smart of any sort, but if the Celtics make a move for Simmons, Smart has to be part of that package. He’s under team control for four years now at a team-friendly rate, and will be a cheaper alternative for Philly rather than paying Simmons an inordinate amount of money to sit on the sidelines.

It is unlikely the 76ers would be willing to deal Simmons to the Boston Celtics, but the longer this goes on, the 76ers front office will probably grow more and more desperate to move him. Nobody really thought the Cleveland Cavaliers would be willing to deal Kyrie Irving to Celtics a few years back, but when the price is right, there’s no sense not taking it.

Simmons’ value also took a major hit today, making it easier for a team like Boston to create a package that would help them land the star guard. Smart and a first round pick or two would probably have to be involved, and maybe a youngster like Romeo Langford or Grant Williams, but Simmons price isn’t going to be through the roof. The 76ers have little to no leverage in this situation at this point considering Simmons has shown no desire to even talk to them at this point.

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Simmons to the Celtics chatter seems unrealistic, but the Celtics are looking for exactly what Simmons has to offer. Other teams may be scared off by Simmons’ lack of shooting or his attitude, but that really shouldn’t be of any concern to Boston or their front office. They don’t need Simmons to shoot, they need him to facilitate and play good defense, which is exactly what he does.

Simmons precisely fills the Celtics final two needs on their roster, and he’s going to be there for the taking. Whether the Celtics front office decides they want to make a move, or if the 76ers even want to negotiate with Boston, could be the difference between a mediocre bounce back season and competing for a title. Simmons stock may be at an all-time low, but don’t get it confused; the Boston Celtics could be competing for a title if this season if they decide to pull off a move for the 76ers unhappy star guard.