Typically, the conversations regarding Ben Simmons start and end with his lack of shooting. Rightly so, as a player with his talent level, you’d expect more from him. But, rarely does anyone give him credit for the other 90% of his game.
His Sixers’ Journey
When he came into the league, he was moved to the point guard position. It was a bold move but it seems to have paid off. Simmons has averaged eight assists per game for his short career. He was tasked with running a team. While former coach Brett Brown seemed overwhelmed in utilizing his players to the best of their ability, Doc Rivers has come in and the team has surrounded Simmons with some actual players that can shoot the ball.
This year, the Sixers have five players in double figures for scoring. While Simmons is only averaging seven assists per game, that number will go back up as the season progresses and the team gets more accustomed to playing together. They’ve already stepped out to the front of the Eastern Conference with a 7-2 record.
Does his lack of shooting actually matter to the Sixers?
Where Simmons is lacking, again this year, is his shooting. Even by his standards, he’s not taking a lot of shots. But, the team is moving the ball around more and there are players that are adding points each game.
The addition of Seth Curry and Danny Green mixed with the seeming resurgence of Tobias Harris has made the team better overall. Spreading the ball around is contributing to their wins. Simmons finally doesn’t have to rely on himself and Joel Embiid to do it all.
Last year, Simmons stepped up on defense and should have been in the conversation for DPOY. Simmons has been continuing that this year. He’s consistently tasked with guarding the best players on the other side of the ball and has virtually shut them all down. He’s averaging almost two steals and two blocks per game to go along with 10 rebounds. If Simmons were to take even four more shots per game, based on his percentages, he’d be averaging close to 18 points per game.
Is that needed? Surely, it would help. But with the way the roster is constructed, he can run the team on offense and set the tone on defense.
Come playoff time, defense is what wins you chanpionships and Simmons is coming in to his own. He is one of, if not the, most premier defensive players in the league. He can guard any position on the floor and be better than almost anyone he’s going against.
Offensively, he’s a nightmare matchup for any team that has to put a “traditional” sized point guard on the floor against him. It’s not that Simmons has to be more of a shooter, he just needs to be more aggressive. But, Doc Rivers has said that he’s happy with Simmons game and what he brings to the table.
Sixers and Rockets Trade Talk
In what seems to be a daily occurrence for the past month or so, his named has been linked to James Harden and how to get “The Beard” to Philadelphia.
Why you may ask? Because fans clamor for Harden’s scoring ability and tend to overlook all of the other things that would disrupt the Sixers team. Harden has never won or lead his team to a championship. In the playoffs, his scoring drops more than ten points per game to just over twenty-two. Defense wins championships and Harden will never be considered a great- or even good- defensive player.
Ben Simmons is 24 years old and while it seems like he’s been around forever, the five years in the league and four that he’s actually been on the court represent him at a young age. Most players don’t hit their prime until 27-31 years old. This being said, Simmons is still a few years away from playing his best basketball. You can’t give up someone who’s already playing at his level and is only getting better and more rounded for a chance to have someone for two years as Harden is already into his thirties.
Ben Simmons’ potential is sky high
Right now, the Sixers team is growing together and becoming a “team.” The addition of Dwight Howard has bolstered the backup center position. This move is paying off more than anyone could have possibly predicted. Howard keeps many players on the floor after games, forcing them to practice.
Read that again. After they play their games, they’re back out on the floor working. Howard, in his limited 14 minutes per game is averaging six point and six rebounds. Even more valuably, he is taking pressure off of Embiid to be on the floor 35+ minutes per game. He’s provided the rare leadership that we don’t often see from aging superstars. One that’s able to accept his role on the bench and as a veteran leader. Howard has the individual accolades that demand respect, but his leadership and energy have gone above and beyond what anyone could have imagined when he was signed in the off-season. This is only going to improve Ben Simmons’ game, and help him reach his potential.
How has this benefited Simmons? He was the first person that Howard had out on the floor after games. Putting up shots. Not layups. Not driving. Three pointers and jump shots. The area that most agree that Simmons needs to improve on.
Ben Simmons now has someone who can relate to him.
Howard was also a young superstar, and can provide the Aussie some insight on how to handle it. Howard is helping Simmons become a more complete player.
The scoring will come. The shooting will come. Patience is a bad word to use, but the patience needs to be there. A still developing Simmons combined with some quality veteran leadership and a proven winner of a coach is going to be invaluable as he progresses in his career.
As the season unfolds and if the Sixers can continue to play at a high level, no one will care about his scoring if the team is in the NBA Finals or wins a championship. *IF* he continues to grow his overall game, as he has in the past few years, the Sixers are in line to have an all-time great player for the next ten years, leading this team towards the NBA title.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
Born and raised in Fishtown, I write.