Joel Embiid was the best rookie in the NBA by a laughable margin (at least on a per-minute basis) during the 2016-2017 NBA season. Ben Simmons was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and, if not for injury, certainly could have been in the mix for the same distinction. As a result of those circumstances and the injury concerns with both young players, the Philadelphia 76ers will be keeping Embiid and Simmons out of NBA Summer League and GM Bryan Colangelo confirmed as much to assembled media on Monday. (via DerekBodner.com)
“Summer League. Here we go again. They’re not playing in summer league.”
Colangelo’s response to the prompt concerning Summer League availability was telling in that, well, it isn’t a surprise that Embiid and Simmons are not participating. In fact, it would have been an outright shock if Embiid, who averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a rookie, took the floor in either Las Vegas or Utah in July. Given his performance and lengthy injury history, it would be borderline reckless to send Embiid into an exhibition setting and, beyond that, he would almost certainly eviscerate the competition of young players battling for their professional lives.
In the case of Simmons, there was more intrigue but this still should not come as a surprise. As Bodner notes, Sixers head coach foreshadowed this decision back in May and, even with a clean bill of health, there is not a lot to be gained by testing Simmons in a Summer League setting. The 6’10 point forward remains a tantalizing prospect in that he does not present a conventional fit but Philly’s investment in his development is apparent and the Sixers are notoriously frugal when it comes to placing their prospects in harm’s way for little gain.
It would have been fun and, perhaps, hilarious to see Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing basketball against mere mortals in Summer League. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening and the NBA world will be left with full-blown uncertainty as to how Simmons will translate as a professional when training camp opens in the fall.