by Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
Let the mind wander, 76ers fans …
It’s 2018. Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals. Philly’s pro basketball franchise hosting the Miami Heat. LeBron James leads the visitors, having bolted from Cleveland two years prior with heart in tow, fully satisfied with having a 52-year championship drought for his “hometown” and feeling free to toil his wares in the place he preferred.
Now 4-4 in title attempts, courtesy of a sweeping effort against Oklahoma City that gave him a third crown in five tries with Miami, here he is in South Philly, paired with fellow aging Hall of Fame lock Dwyane Wade, attempting to take yet another audacious step on Michael Jordan’s cape … against the stunningly successful Sixers.
Barely removed from a dreadful, “trust the process” stretch that unveiled three of the worst, and most lifeless, seasons in NBA history, they lead the league with 60 regular-season wins in the 2017-18 campaign, earning home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and so much respect that corporate contributions make full references to the Wells Fargo Center an acceptable practice once again.
After grudgingly informing the sold-out crowd who will start for the Heat, public address announcer Matt Cord ramps up the energy in sharing who will take the floor first for the Sixers.
The names come alive off his lips, pulsating all the way up to the rafters. Kris Dunn, a point guard out of Providence taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft that acquired in the Jahlil Okafor trade to Boston. DeAndre Bembry, the quality “glue” guy out of nearby Saint Joseph’s taken later in the first round of the same draft who handles the 2.
Gordon Hayward, the sharpshooter on the squad acquired in the off-season from Utah for several future picks, one a first and two a second, who plays the 3. Joel Embiid, the enigmatic, ultra-talented big man whose positive moments are beginning to dwarf his negative ones at the 5.
Finally, the franchise: Ben Simmons. Mr. Do-Everything. Philly’s latest Ultimate Weapon. A No. 1 playing like a No. 1. The just-named league MVP. Led the NBA in assists, finished third in rebounding and seventh in scoring – while, get this, shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc and 52 from the field overall … and 79 from the foul line.
With key subs Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel and Ryan Arcidiacano primed to pump things up once they come off the bench.
Imagine that … all those concerns about who to pick, who to keep, who to trade just gone. Poof … just like that numbing frustration from all the losing under former GM Sam Hinkie which paved the way to such a scenario.
If only …
Taking Simmons the moment Thursday night’s 2016 NBA Draft could be the key to something big by the Sixers. Yeah, so much else needs to fall into place for any scenario that even remotely resembles the above to materialize, especially the improved health and continued maturation of Embiid.
But the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Simmons has that generational-type potential to completely alter the fates of an organization that, in many way, seems to have been cursed.
Much like LeBron … even if he ain’t LeBron.
Let the mind wander.
Long live the new King.
You know, especially if the Sixers opt to select him.
BEN BY NUMBERS
FRESHMAN | LSU
Minutes Per Game
Points Per Game
Rebounds Per Game
Assists Per Game
Steals Per Game
Blocks Per Game