Joel Embiid shuts down any talk that he can't coexist with 76ers teammate Ben Simmons: 'I think it's BS'

The 76ers have experienced their share of struggles this season. They're fifth in the East and just 9-19 on the road at the All-Star break after many expected them to compete for the top seed in the conference prior to the season's start. As a result, some pundits have suggested that the team's two All-Stars -- Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons -- would be better suited playing on separate squads. The fact that both prefer to produce in the paint is mentioned as one of the main reasons why they don't mesh well, despite the fact that they've won 50-plus games and advanced in the playoffs in both seasons that they've played together thus far. 

At All-Star media availability on Saturday, Embiid was asked about the dynamic between he and Simmons and he quickly shut down the notion that the two can't coexist. 

"I think it's BS, because when you look at the last two years that we have been playing together, it was not a problem," Embiid said. "This year it's only a problem because at times our offense has struggled and I think it's definitely going to be better after the All-Star break. I mean, just look at the last two years what we have been able to do and I think it can work and it's going to work." 

Simmons was also asked about the relationship between the two Sixers stars. When answering, he emphasized the fact that he liked having Embiid as a running mate and he made it clear that he doesn't think that the duo has reached its full potential yet. 

"It takes time. Not everything is supposed to be perfect right away," Simmons said. "We're two different people trying to figure it out. I love playing with Joel, I think he's an amazing talent. I got a lot of respect for his game, and I know that he feels the same way about me, so as long as we continue to strive and go the right way, I think we'll be fine. We got a lot of talent, it's kind of scary how good we can be." 

In their answers, Embiid and Simmons were both completely correct. Given the success that they've had together already, it's easy to forget how young they both are. Embiid is 25 and in the midst of his fourth season, while Simmons is 23 and playing his third year in the league. It took Michael Jordan seven years to win his first ring. LeBron James didn't win his first title until his ninth season. These things take time. 

Between the two stars, Embiid and Simmons already have 41 games of playoff experience and five All-Star appearances combined. Both are still improving as players as neither has hit their prime yet. They're also two of the best defenders in the entire NBA, so as long as they're both in the lineup, the Sixers are almost guaranteed of having an elite, or near-elite defense. Plus, the two seem to genuinely enjoy playing with each other. Sure there will be doubters, as there always will be until a title is won (and sometimes even still then), but Embiid and Simmons believe that they can coexist together. It would be a major mistake if Philadelphia's front office decided to prematurely pull the plug on this dynamic duo. 

Michael Kaskey-Blomain covers the NBA for CBS Sports. He has covered the league in some capacity since 2009 for a variety of outlets including Philly.com, ESPN 97.3, and 247 Sports. Michael hails from... Full Bio

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