What exactly did everyone expect from Ben Simmons this year? If there’s a person who envisioned Simmons averaging 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists while shooting 53 percent, according to Sports Reference, please raise your hand. Simmons is way ahead of where he should be this early in his career. What many may have forgotten, is that this is a player who was drafted to fit in the frontcourt. Instead, he has thrived at possibly the toughest position in the NBA all at the size of 6-10. Scary!
However, here he is going up against the likes of John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Kyrie Irving and holding his own. What more do you want from a 21-year old rookie?
Simmons has six triple-doubles already this season while Lonzo Ball has two. Please know there’s a difference between the two players. What it seems is that most experts thought Ball would be the one with Simmons’ numbers and vice versa. It’s been pretty clear that Ball is hype, while Simmons is the real product. And yet, we hate what we cannot understand.
As the Philadelphia 76ers struggled early due to their young lineup this season, Simmons’ game took unfair shots. When the Sixers were playing at a high level, Simmons has earned top praise. But still, his numbers have stayed even keel throughout the good and bad times. This is life in the NBA in which Simmons must become familiar with.
His free-throw shooting has been awful, and his perimeter game is nonexistent. However, those are the same as its been since his college days. So what’s the problem now? It’s okay to admit that Simmons is better than you thought he would be. What has the league terrified is that no one knows how much better he can get. What happens if or when Simmons begins to hit free throws and knock down perimeter shots? If you’re lost in thought, imagine how the other 29 teams in the NBA feel.
No, Simmons did not make the All-Star team, and while some Sixers’ fans felt that was the right call, they were wrong. No disrespect to the likes of Jimmy Butler or Goran Dragic, but if you didn’t want to play (Butler) then give your spot up to someone who will. Dragic was a good choice, but he’s not better than Simmons.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Simmons is that he’s one of the best rookies in the NBA. While that may be true, Simmons has earned the title as one of the best players in the league right now. Forget the rookie stigma that has been attached to his name. While he’s in a battle with Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz for ROY, Simmons deserves the award just off merit alone. He missed his rookie season due to injury, listened to the critics that he might not live up to his potential and not only has he done so but has led the Sixers to a possible playoff berth along the way.
The biggest knock he has faced is his shooting woes. But why? In what NBA rule book does it state that a player has to shoot three-pointers or perimeter shots to be mentioned with the top guards? Simmon’s job is to get his teammates in position to score, set the tone and win games. At what point has Simmons failed to do that?
Simmons may not be Westbrook or Damian Lillard, yet, but he’s exactly what the Sixers need.