I imagine many Philadelphia 76ers fans' hearts dropped on Wednesday evening around 6 PM, when Ben Simmons limped off the floor while battling against the Washington Wizards. It was a frightening moment because it was one of those non-contact injuries where it didn't look like anything was wrong until Simmons grimaced and then immediately headed to the locker room. The Sixers would eventually come back and defeat the Wizards, but the fate of Simmons was unknown.
It became known today as all your favorite NBA insiders tweeted that Simmons was out indefinitely with a "subluxation of the left patella," which a quick Google search reveals is a partial dislocation of the kneecap. Definitely not great, but by no means a devastating injury.
Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt, and the Sixers are losing their best perimeter defender and playmaker. But this may very well be a net positive for Philadelphia. They aren't more talented sans Simmons, but the pieces will fit better together, and there's a strong possibility we see proof of that sooner rather than later.
Simmons' downsides are given more attention than his upsides, which isn't fair. But it's also true. His inability to even try to shoot clogs the lane for the Sixers, which is a problem since Joel Embiid isn't all that great of a three-point shooter. It's why their super-jumbo lineup with Simmons/Embiid/Tobias Harris/Al Horford didn't work. Horford and Embiid are average-at-best from deep and when you have all those big bodies hanging out inside the arc, well... It's not terribly difficult to gameplan for them.
Now, though, the equation changes. Everyone knows Embiid is now the top option on offense, and everyone will get in line behind him. The Horford-Embiid frontcourt pairing is suddenly a lot more viable when you have Josh Richardson, Shake Milton, and Tobias Harris behind them as decent shooters. Mixing and matching bench units will become tougher with no Simmons, but that doesn't matter nearly as much once the playoffs start.
With enough room to operate, there aren't many centers in the league who can go toe-to-toe with Embiid. He now has that. That could be all the difference in the world for a Sixers team that has struggled mightily all season. The defense will get worse, because Simmons is an All-NBA-level defender. But with Embiid still back there, they'll manage to tread water. The offense opening up could be the difference between a first-round exit and a deep playoff run.