How Easy Were Wilt Chamberlain's Records to Attain in the Pre-Modern NBA? Should the 76ers Trade Ben Simmons?

I was sitting in a bar in Towson trying to uphold conversation without drooling on myself when the topic of Ben Simmons came up. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the 76ers, but I do watch a lot of their games living in Philadelphia. I’m more of a Spurs fan, but that’s beside the point. They have a whole heaping mess of issues and their only solution seems to be to pray for youth development. Anyways… we were talking about Ben Simmons.

The stranger mentioned the 76ers and NBA free agency, so we began to talk about the direction of the team. This conversation took place before Jimmy Butler signed his new contract with the Heat, so we discussed the possibilities of the team’s roster for the upcoming season. I shared my belief that the Philadelphia 76ers should trade Ben Simmons and resign Jimmy. I believed Jimmy embodied the spirit of Philadelphia better than any other player on roster and that Ben Simmons– more or less– wants be a Kardashian. Many people at this time hoped that the team could keep all four of their stars and run it back next season with the same core. Didn’t happen.

The stranger looked at me with disgust at the idea of trading Ben Simmons and relayed his belief that Ben will become the next Wilt Chamberlain. Listen folks, I could barely form words and even I understood how bad this take was. Ben Simmons will not develop a jump shot. He doesn’t come across as a hard worker and even if he does hit the gym this off-season, he lacks the confidence to even attempt to shoot. I found the comparison between someone who refuses to shoot and someone who scored 100 points in a game baffling. The playoffs exposed Ben Simmons as an offensive dud, which prompted me to drunkenly and incoherently babble in outrage for half an hour. His point was not grounded in reality and for whatever reason, I found/find myself fixated on the idea.

I don’t know why I’m sitting here this morning thinking about this conversation. I have discussed it several times with friends and have basically run exchange into the ground. They probably will roll their eyes to see this topic in written form, but here I am once again wondering about Ben and Wilt.

There is a reason that Wilt Chamberlain holds almost every single record in the NBA and why no one will ever come close to his records – he played in a league of short white guys. In the 1960s, pro athletes were not professionals. They were undersized and lacked the skill and work ethic of their modern counterparts. I don’t want to take too much away from Wilt. He was a freak and would be a superstar in any era of the NBA. Go watch his highlights. They are objectively incredible.

The league Wilt played in can’t be ignored in this conversation. It is the reason that he is constantly left out of debates on T.V. about the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael Jordan, who is considered the greatest of all time, never came close to Wilt’s averages. Wilt averaged 50 points a game. In the modern era, we look at 50 point games with amazement because of their incredible difficulty. He was a man in a league filled with boys.

So I’m sitting here this morning ignoring the manuscript next to me and wondering about Ben Simmons in that league. The truth is that Ben would probably put up incredible numbers in this era as well. He would not average 50, but he would absolutely be a top player in that league. I couldn’t cover a 6’10” point guard and, for all intents and purposes, guys like me made up the NBA back then.

All of that said. Trade him. Teams will still look at him with upside this year and it will be way harder to move him after another year without a jumper. Why do you want a guard that clogs the lane on a team filled with big men? I don’t know. They won’t win a championship with Ben. I would move him as soon as it opens up on July 6th. They won’t, but someone had to say it.

I probably should’ve spent my time adding the finishing touches to my book, which is the whole reason I woke up this early, but here we are. Raoul falls down another rabbit hole.

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