Spotlight | Embiid, Simmons Eye All-Star Bids

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

CAMDEN, NJ - As the 76ers head to a different continent for most of the week, so too will the All-Star bids being made by two of the team’s bright, young standouts.

At the time club departed for the 2018 NBA London Game Monday evening, there was one week remaining for fans to cast their votes for this year’s All-Star Game. The deadline is 11:59 PM EST on January 15th.

With the one wave of votes in the books, the Sixers received solid representation, as both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons ranked among the top vote-getters.

Averaging 23.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.0 blocks this season, Embiid had racked up 433,161 fan votes as of last Thursday, a total good for fourth overall in the Eastern Conference.

Simmons, meanwhile, had netted 210,085 votes, placing him fourth among East guards, and ninth overall in the conference. He accounts for 16.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game this year, with his 7.5 assists per game sixth-best in the league, and his 1.9 steals per game tied for fourth.

Embiid narrowly missed out on being an All-Star in 2017, but likes his chances in his second go-round.

“I was pretty surprised,” the big man said a few days ago, when asked to react to the early voting returns he’s garnered. “Last year, I don’t think I had that many votes [at this time]. It just shows you how hard I’ve been working, and the support the fans have in me, and I appreciate that.”

Following Sunday’s practice in Camden, Simmons said that an All-Star selection would mean a lot to him. The last rookie to be named to the annual superstar showcase was LA Clippers forward Blake Griffin, in 2011.

A reality facing Simmons, however (one that he fully acknowledges), is that his personal path to an All-Star berth will require him to overcome several established, elite players who are also vying for spots.

“I think it would be a blessing, amazing, but it’s tough,” Simmons said of his All-Star candidacy. “You’ve got a lot of veterans in front of you...but whatever happens, happens. I’m blessed to be in this position to even be recognized on one of the top voting charts.”

In Brett Brown’s view, Embiid and Simmons are each deserving of All-Star consideration, and not just because of their talents. Brown feels there’s another critical factor at work, too.

“It’s, ‘Do you win?,’” said Brown. “That’s the thing that tips it. You have sort of a popularity contest that goes on for a while, and then you have a respect vote. We’re looking for the respect vote.”

Embiid and Simmons are worthy of it, according to Brown.

“We feel like they have shown that they could be All-Stars,” the head coach said. “The thing that solidifies that vote is exactly what should solidify that vote - is can you win? If you’re an All-Star, that’s one of the criteria. As their coach...you use that fact as a compass and a way to help them understand what really an All-Star is.”

In respect to the notion of collective success being part of an All-Star’s profile, Simmons agreed, as did Embiid.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the wins,” said the 7-footer.

While making a combined pitch for The Ben and Jo Show, the Sixers’ duo has gotten plenty of support, near and far.

“A lot of Philly people, Eagles, even back home, a lot of Australians supported me, which means a lot,” Simmons said.

The NBA will next update the fan voting polls this Thursday.