The curious case of Ben Simmons & the Philadelphia 76ers

Ben Simmons
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Ben Simmons (25) looks toward the net during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Every offseason seems to be the same story – Clips surface of Ben Simmons shooting 3’s like its nothing. Hype videos of a smooth stroke flood our twitter timelines and then the season rolls around and this newfound jumper is all but forgotten.

Ben Simmons is a very good basketball player. He stands roughly 6’10, can handle the ball, runs the fast-break tremendously, is a talented passer, and will be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year Candidate. Ben’s drawn comparisons of guys like Magic Johnson and LeBron James since he was a junior in high-school. It is tough to deny how high the ceiling of Ben’s game is. But it is becoming fair to question if he will ever legitimately reach this.

Ben Simmons: The Early years

Simmons is the son of a former Australian professional basketball player and spent his childhood in Australia. He came to the US for his sophomore year of high school at the age of 15. Simmons chose to go to Montverde Academy in Florida, which has produced a long list of high-level college and NBA players. It was at this point where Ben began drawing national attention and expectations were thrust upon him. He climbed up recruiting rankings and became the consensus #1 prospect in the country. In his final year of high school, Ben averaged 27.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.5 steals.

Scouting reports across the country marveled at Ben’s potential. In the official ESPN rankings, Simmons was given 97/100 scout grade. Ben also played alongside Nets’ star D’Angelo Russell which made for some pretty impressive highlights. You have to feel for your everyday high-schoolers would finish up Algebra 2 and then have to attempt to guard that duo.

On the negative side of his game, the report also read quite familiar 0 referencing an inability to shoot from range and adding some dribble moves to his game in the post. It also was discussed how Ben needs to improve on his rebounding as well as cutting down on turnovers and being more engaged on defense.

In his senior year at Montverde, Simmons attempted 51 threes and hit them at a non-embarrassing 29.4%. Ultimately Simmons decided to go to college at LSU where his Godfather was an assistant coach.

Ben Simmons: LSU

Simmons was very open that he would be a one-and-done at LSU. He stuck to this plan and scraped by his first semester with a 1.8 GPA. After the season was over, so was Ben’s tolerance for class and he was withdrawn from the school soon after. On the court, Simmons played well but the team finished at 19-14 and missed out on the NCAA tournament, which was regarded as a major disappointment. Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals throughout the season.

Despite the unsuccessful team outcome, Simmons flashed all the tools to his game and gave no reason for NBA teams to change their opinion of him being the best player in the draft.

The present day

Ben Simmons has now been with the Sixers for 4 years. He spent his first-year sitting out with a foot injury but returned to win Rookie of the Year and 2 All-Star appearances in the following years. He is without a doubt a top-20 NBA player and has an exciting future ahead of him.

However, it is extremely frustrating the lack of growth that Simmons has shown offensively. It has now been over 5 years since that high school scouting report was written, yet it reads as if it could have been about this season. Simmons has attempted a total of 24 three-pointers throughout his NBA career. While it would be unfair to expect to expect Simmons to ever become a dead-eye from deep, it is unacceptable in today’s NBA for a player of Ben’s caliber to not at least hold the threat of shooting a 3-pointer.

In his rookie year, Simmons scored 80.4% of his points in the paint. He also scored 14.9% of his points from the free-throw line which leaves just 4.7% of his points to be scored elsewhere. This season, Simmons produced 78.8% of his points in the paint. He also accounted for 19.7% of his points coming from the charity stripe. This means just 1.5% of his points were scored elsewhere on the court.

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Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire