With the NBA season in a bit of a limbo at the moment, and nobody really being sure if the league will be continuing or not, now seemed like as good a time as ever to reflect back on the Sixers roster and how they’ve all performed thus far.
Up first? Well of course it has to be the team’s starting point guard. A now two-time NBA All-Star: Ben Simmons.
Expectations were sky-high for Simmons entering the 2019-2020 season. Despite Ben receiving his fair share of criticism the last few years, the 76ers double-downed on their commitment to the Australian guard this past offseason. They handed Simmons a 5 year max extension, while also letting Jimmy Butler walk out the door, a player who reportedly was struggling to get along with Ben.
Just a few weeks into the season, and chirps of “trade Ben Simmons” were already beginning to be voiced around the Philly fan base. Simmons had really struggled to get going early on in the year, averaging just 11.9 points per game in the month of November.
Despite remaining absurdly efficient during this time period (51.5% from the field) while also playing lock down defense, people around the league were expecting much, much more from the young point guard. As the calendar year came to a close, many analysts had Simmons missing the All-Star game completely.
Then came January.
Joel Embiid injured his hand just a few days into 2020, and the team’s success now fell fully on the shoulders of Ben Simmons. Over the course of 13 games, Simmons was unbelievably dominant.
He averaged a near triple-double during the time span, posting 22.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. He shot 62.6% from the floor while also shooting over 67% from the free throw line, something he has long struggled with. Simmons played close to 40 minutes a night and the team went 8-5 in spite of Embiid’s absence, beating the likes of OKC, Boston, and even the LA Lakers.
Simmons continued to dominate into the month of February, all the way up to the All-Star game. Unfortunately, he missed the last couple games prior to the league’s suspension due to a nerve injury in his back. With limited information available on the injury, everyone has their fingers crossed that it won’t need surgery.
Offense aside, one aspect of Simmon’s game that has not been criticized this season is his defense. He completely revolutionized the way he defends, proving to be a lockdown defender on positions 1-5. Simmons’ name has been mentioned frequently when it comes to the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
Depending on how the NBA’s season finishes out, Simmons will most likely get some DPOY votes and will surely be a member of the league’s “Defensive First Team”.
Simmons is just 23 years old, a fact a lot of fans seem to forget at times. He’s still so young and raw, with development that is bursting through the seams. In just his third year, he’s already established himself as one of the best two-way players in the game. That’s not common.
At this point in time, Simmons is averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game on the year. He is also leading the entire NBA in steals per game (2.1)
Personally, I found Simmons to be the best overall player on the Sixers this year. His consistent availability and dominance on both ends of the floor is second to none on the roster, and he brings a certain level of energy that most players can’t match
Jumper or no jumper, Simmons is the truth. If I had to give him a grade for his 2019/2020 season performance so far, I’d give him a firm A.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports