Once again, mock trades are trying to take advantage of the San Antonio Spurs. I understand that big market teams are used to thinking they’ll get what they want. I’ve seen years’ worth of mock trades sending Kyle Kuzma and picks to a team for an All-NBA player. The Knicks have depressingly always thought they’ll win the draft lottery and land a big-time free agent. This sense of entitlement is laughable at best, but often it’s downright sad.
The 76ers have entered the fray. As the eighth largest metro area in the United States, it should be of no surprise that their level of basketball entitlement is peaking. On the website Sixer Sense (which is usually one of the better NBA sites) at the moment two of the four featured stories are about free agent signings or trades. Does Philly think they can get a mid-tier role player? No, they want Bradley Beal or Kyle Lowry.
Both of these seem like a real stretch, but at the end of the day, they don’t really affect San Antonio. Until it does. In a mock trade proposed by Bleacher Report, the Spurs would receive Ben Simmons for basically the entire organization. Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell, and Derrick White would all head to Pennsylvania. This is the second terrible mock trade for Simmons we’ve seen. The other one was here, and it’s just as bad.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. No way would the Spurs give up all of those players just for one defensive specialist. I mean, Simmons is the prototypical Spur. He avoids shooting threes and plays stellar defense and team offense. What’s not to like?
Well, let’s make things fun and remove some of the unnecessary fluff proposed in the trade. Instead, what if San Antonio did a simple trade with the Sixers? Ben Simmons for Dejounte Murray, no other strings attached?
No. Nope. Nada. Zip. Please go away. This trade is also an insult to small-market teams everywhere. What could I be talking about? Simmons is an All-Star, and Murray is a good point guard, but nowhere near the level Simmons is on, right?
Wrong. Let’s look at the 2020-21 season when Simmons was an All-Star and Murray was written off, not even getting named to an All-Defensive Team.
Murray scored more points, shot better from deep on 189 more attempts, and grabbed the same amount of rebounds despite being seven inches shorter. They had the same amount of steals, and although Simmons averaged an assist and a half more, 5.4 per night is nothing to sneeze at.
Simmons is a defensive mastermind, allegedly. However, Murray is not far behind, if behind at all. This year, Simmons had 3.3 defensive win shares to Murray’s 2.6. Keep in mind, the Sixers won 16 more games than the Spurs this season.
Returning to the Bleacher Report mock trade, which was a joke, the Spurs would have to give up White and Vassell on top of a player who is arguably just as good as Simmons.
One could say (Me, I'm saying this) that the flair of playing in a big market, a really good team, and being the first overall pick has lent Ben Simmons a bit of a leash. Murray doesn’t have that. If you look at the two through a numeric lens, they are easily comparable on defense, and Murray is easily the better offensive player.
Sorry, Philly fans. There is no good reason for the Spurs to give you White and Vassell AND a player who’s already better than Simmons for a playoff choker who is about to be run out of town.