This “Trust the Prophecy” poll will look to tap into the collective wisdom of the Liberty Ballers community. Wisdom of the crowds is often more powerful than the guess of an individual. One example is the old “guess how many jellybeans are in the jar” contest. It’s been demonstrated that the average of every carnival-goer’s guess is often surprisingly close to the precise amount of candy beans, and much better than a random participants’ guess. Let’s try our hand as a community at some forecasting....
In the first “trust the prophecy” we did back on Dec. 6th, fans predicted that this team, without any change to the current Ben Simmons situation, is headed for a 4th, 5th, or 6th seed in the East. The final voting results are here. So far you nailed it. Simmons is still in Philadelphia, still not playing, and the team is 16-15, tied for sixth place in the East. We’ll see if that holds.
The Sixers are coming off one of their signature wins of the season, a 108-103 victory over the rival Boston Celtics. It was a monster performance by Joel “the closer” Embiid, who had 41 points, 10 boards, five dimes, four blocks, two steals, and drained 12 of 14 from the stripe. Joel even let his former assistant coach know he’s a monster, in case Ime Udoka had somehow failed to notice:
My love for Joel Embiid is endless pic.twitter.com/2rcNHMa7Ff— Sid (@Go_Sixers_Go) December 22, 2021
But just before that win Doc Rivers’ guys had dropped a string of ugly losses to the undermanned Grizzlies, Heat and Nets, as many fans grew disgusted with this ongoing Ben Simmons stalemate.
Is there anyway to block Woj and Shams from all the Covid news as well as the ten-day contracts? I just want some Ben Simmons trade news… That’s all I ask! #NBATwitter— Mike Small (@realmikesmall) December 21, 2021
Try as we might to take an objective inventory for where the Sixers stand, it’s been difficult to build any sample data we can trust. There has been so little continuity in their lineups, as players shuffle in and out with injury and illness; something many teams are experiencing.
Nash echoes Sean Marks saying “continuity is out in the window,” in what changed with Kyrie Irving’s status.— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) December 18, 2021
Just a week or two ago, a few of us at Liberty Ballers had a Slack conversation about how even though the East is tougher than we expected, it’s fairly open at the very top. Injuries to the reigning champs, the Milwaukee Bucks, injuries to the Miami Heat, the (then) indefinite absence of Nets’ Kyrie Irving, a couple of us debated just how aggressive the Sixers should be here. Could a player like CJ McCollum actually be enough to get them to the NBA Finals? (I voted “maybe CJ could, but that it’s ultimately not worth finding out, so they should keep waiting for a better package”).
Or should they conider sneak-tanking? If they do push does that mean trading Ben Simmons for something less than ideal? Does Kyrie Irving returning to Brooklyn for road games mean the East is no longer wide open? Does waiting until the summer for some bigger fish (names like Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and James Harden are set to be unrestricted free agents) make more sense? Or does that “flush” a season of Embiid’s prime down the drain? What if they executed a trade for 45 cents on the dollar, could that potentially “flush” three seasons of Embiid’s prime? What if they wait until summer and strike out?
There was so much to consider even before a wave of Omicron started spraying through the entire country, as every professional team scrambles to find replacement players.
Free agent guard Joe Johnson is signing a 10-day deal with the Boston Celtics, sources tell ESPN. Johnson is returning to the franchise that drafted him 20 years ago and is expected to play tonight vs. Cleveland.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 22, 2021
We’re almost ready to call up Mr. Cooper, for those of us old enough to catch the reference.
So is this the season for the Sixers to push for a title? Is there too much uncertainty to go all-in? They could land a new player and half of their squad still land in health and safety protocol for a massive game seven. Does that type of scenario come into play at all?
If we’re reading the tea leaves, it sounds like Daryl Morey and Elton Brand are considering absolutely everything. It wouldn’t surprise this humble blogger in the least if we finally heard the Sixers were swinging a trade and Simmons’ name wasn’t even in the deal. Imagine reading the first few words from a Woj tweet about a Sixers trade and then...alas... no blockbuster.
This is a forecasting piece so let’s look at a few predictions.
Cleaningtheglass.com suggests the Sixers are on pace to be a 10th seed, and are currently playing like a 41.6 win Play-In loser. It’s harsh but is probably weighted heavily by the team’s crummy -0.8 differential per game, the 19th overall team differential. It’s hard to make the playoffs if you’re not outscoring your opponent on a nightly basis. If that came to be, that might leave the Sixers a not-at-all-insignificant 8.1 percent shot at a top four pick in the coming draft. Hmm, the 3rd pick in the draft and a Simmons trade....
538’s model is a little more bullish on the Sixers, and has them finishing with 47 wins, notching a fifth seed. Death, taxes, and 538 loving them some Sixers.
Oddschecker.com suggests the Sixers have the 4th best odds in the East to win the title, behind the Nets, Bucks, and Heat, with Philly just ahead of the Bulls. Odds makers think eight teams have a better shot at the finals than Philly.
Make your prediction
So what do we predict for Ben Simmons? Is there a trade right around the corner this holiday season? Will there be one in late January? Since it’s been reported that the Sixers may look to swing a three or even four team blockbuster, an Andrew-Bynum style monstrosity, it might take some time to iron out. Could this get sorted in the days leading up to the February 10th NBA Trade deadline? Or might the Sixers actually opt to get back to their lottery roots then explore trades next summer when some superstars may be on the move?
What about the oft-discussed “step” trade where they look to add some minor reinforcements now? Could say Malik Beasley and Patrick Beverley provide a boost where you don’t completely punt this season while stacking multiple draft picks from the Minnesota Timberwolves? If so would we see a major trade this season and then another come summer? That idea would seem to get more appealing as time goes on. Maybe we’re not fully wasting a season of Embiid’s prime, we’re improving just not going all-in while enhancing our trade offers with extra draft picks.
Or will they fire Doc Rivers and Simmons’ once training partner Sam Cassell takes over as head coach and convinces Simmons to play for the team again?
Lock your votes in now and check back on our results in the coming days....
When will Ben Simmons be traded?
This poll is closed
By Jan. 31, 2022
Around trade deadline (Feb. 1-Feb. 10, 2022)
Still a Sixer by start of next season