The 2019-20 NBA season didn’t go the Philadelphia 76ers’ way. Despite an enormous payroll and lofty preseason expectations, the Sixers were swept by the rival Boston Celtics in the first round of the postseason in Orlando. When it comes to the Sixers’ struggles last season, Ben Simmons thinks that a big part of the problem was accountability, or a lack thereof. After the season ended, Josh Richardson said that the Sixers lacked accountability, and Simmons agreed with him while speaking with media members earlier this week.
“We didn’t know when we were going to get a bucket, who was going to get us a bucket,” Simmons said, via ESPN. “From that to knowing what we needed to be in at all times, people being held accountable for certain things, whether it’s a minor thing, it all plays a part… He definitely was right. We weren’t in a position to go into that bubble and win. I think our mindset was off, and accountability is a huge part of winning. So I think he was definitely right.”
Richardson’s comments, which came shortly after the Sixers were eliminated by the Celtics, came off as a pretty clear indictment of then-head coach Brett Brown.
“He’s a good guy. He’s a good man. He means well,” Richardson said of Brown. “I just think, going forward, he’s gotta have some more accountability. I don’t think there was much accountability this season, and I think that was part of our problem … It’s got to start from scratch, it isn’t going to be easy. People aren’t going to be comfortable, but that’s what championship teams do. Guys not doing their job on or off the court, there’s got to be some sort of, not consequence, but you got to be able to talk to each other and listen, actually hear. It’s a hard lesson to learn for some people, but in order for us to make this playoff run that we all want, it’s got to start.”
The Sixers have since moved on from Brown, and they brought in Doc Rivers as his replacement. With this change, along with the addition of some veterans with championship experience like Dwight Howard and Danny Green, Simmons thinks that the maturity level of the team has risen, which will be beneficial.
“Bringing in Doc and all these guys in, and Doc’s team, with all these coaches around, the maturity has definitely risen with the team,” Simmons said. “And I think it’s been great to see that and see guys be accountable for certain things and come here ready with a different mindset, and also having those vet guys come in like Dwight [Howard], Danny Green, that’s really setting the bar. So you know what to expect.”
Simmons was unable to play during Philadelphia’s loss to Boston in the playoffs last year due to a knee injury, but he said that he’s fully healthy heading into the ’20-21 campaign, which is obviously good news for the franchise. After a forgettable season, the Sixers will be looking to bounce back, and a healthy Simmons will be a huge part of that, in addition to improved overall accountability.