There are so many NBA young-guns that could end up becoming the next LeBron James, a.k.a the most dominant player in the league for years to come. There’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl Anthony-Towns, Joel-Embiid, Devin Booker, and so-on. But after Saturday’s playoff performance against the Miami Heat, Ben Simmons showed the whole league why he may be one of the best players to come out of the NBA Draft since King James in 2003.
Simmons, the number 1 overall pick in 2016, led the Philadelphia 76ers to their first playoff win in nearly six years. In Game 1 against Miami, the former LSU product scored 17 points, dished out 14 assists, and snatched up 9 rebounds. Damn good for your first playoff start.
Simmons’ one game playoff performance is not the reason he may dominate the NBA for the next 10 years, but it does help the argument.
Simmons missed his first official season in 2016 because of injury, so he was classified as a rookie for the 2017-18 season, but ever since stepping on the NBA hardwood he has played nothing like one.
Over the course of the regular season, Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists a game. Simmons, despite what Donovan Mitchell says, is going to (and deserves to) win the Rookie of the Year for 2017-18 because of how well, and efficient, he played. He shot close to 55% from the field this year by making it to the basket at almost anytime he wants.
Simmons is listed at 6’10” and essentially runs the point for this Sixers team. His dribbling for a person of his height is unheralded. Even his passing for a guy of his size is ridiculous. He runs the offense with so much fluidity to the point that his handling of the ball can only be compared to the likes of Magic Johnson and, the already mentioned, King James.
The only knock that can be put on Simmons is the fact that he is not a 3-point shooter. Does that really matter if the guy can efficiently swerve through the teeth of a defense to either dump the ball off to a teammate, or take it to the rack himself ? No, so why does it matter if he can’t shoot the three ball? Every other dimension of his offensive game is polished already, and it’s only going to get better as he keeps playing in the league.
In his first official season, Simmons was a key force that put the 76ers back in the playoffs. He even lead them to 16 straight wins at the end of this season. Even more impressive is the fact that the 76ers during the last 8 games of that win streak, they were without the help of all-star center Joel “The Process” Embiid.
Simmons is the biggest reason behind Philadelphia’s success this year and it is undeniable. People can talk about how he has the help of Embiid (12-17 career record before this year), but teams don’t just randomly shoot up from 28 to 52 wins. There had to be some sort of change to make that happen, and something tells me the difference was not made when Philly signed J.J. Reddick this offseason. Simmons is the type of player that changes your franchise, and he showed that this season balling for Philadelphia. Now let’s see how far he can take them in the playoffs.
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@Jribs53)