Despite plenty of room for improvement, the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft continues to impress. With the NBA regular season a little while to go, we take a look at the former LSU sensation and boldly state he will be the reigning MVP of the league before you can even blink.
Simmons has little to no trouble creating offense for his teammates, but continues to struggle to finish opportunities for himself. He’s yet to have any real refined moves around the rim — which for a teenager is perfectly reasonable — and seems to struggle scoring over bigger bodies. Through three total summer league games, Simmons is shooting just 7-25, but we are more concerned about him continuing to contribute on the defensive end than anything else. Everyone knows he’s going to be a special talent offensively, but to lock into the defensive end of the floor, and be engaged on both sides of the ball is what will cement his status as a true NBA baller in the early years of his career.
Simmons has played a majority of his minutes thus far with the ball in his hands, but that may not be the case come the regular season. Although Philadelphia recently signed a competent ball handler in Euro star Sergio Rodriguez, and T.J. McConnell continues to prove he’s capable of running an NBA offense, there is no doubt Simmons is a power forward that plays like a point guard who is more than comfortable handling the duties of distribution that come with the position.
A lot of power forwards are involved in pick-and-rolls naturally, but for him it is obvious he will be receiving screens and rolls towards the basket from team mates; or better-yet open lanes for highlight dunks. The complete part of his game will develop as he understands how defenses start to read and play on him, but coming into the league as a 19 year old rookie the last time we saw anything remotely this close to immediate stardom was one LeBron James out of Akron, Ohio.
First impressions: Ben Simmons will be worth watching as an NBA player
Simmons’ feel for the game comes through in his passing. It’s special, and figures to put him among the few NBA passers who electrify arenas by moving the ball. LeBron James, Ricky Rubio, Rajon Rondo (at times), John Wall and Chris Paul come to mind. That ability elicits effort from teammates and causes discomfort for defenses.
Simmons will end up being the Sixers’ de facto playmaker, not because they don’t have a traditional point guard, but because the ball in his hands will provide their best scoring chances. Some NBA scouts were left a little bit too amazed over Simmons’ floor vision and passing ability as a freshman while still at LSU. Now he just needs to make sure he corrects other stuff like his outside shooting while still marveling and manipulating defenses. Simmons does it in the least expected moments, which is good, however, it needs to be more consistent. As soon as he’s pushing the ball, his eyes are up surveying the angles available, the eventual positions of the teammates and defenders, and every calculation is being made. These traits are signs of a player who will become great. Majority of the time it take players two to four years to master these skill sets.
De-Throning the King
The floor spacing, and sometimes 1-on-1 matchups the NBA game provides will allow Simmons to blossom even earlier and have a much bigger impact than he has shown during is odd season at LSU and the Summer League so far. Combine ample rebounding with his ball-handling and passing abilities — and that’s when his game becomes a completely weaponized. Simmons has the potential to be a double-double machine as we are witnessing with Russell Westbrook at the point guard position in Oklahoma City. Every skill works together with Simmon and once he figures how to score on a regular basis in the NBA there is no doubt fans across the globe will gravitate to their screens when the 76ers are scheduled to hit the courts. Get him in the open floor and he’s going to find a teammate. Opponents in the NBA will quickly have to worry about him scoring — even if it comes at a lower percentage right now, it discombobulates a scrambling defensive mind. He finds a teammate cutting to the hoop or flaring to the corner and the only forward I can remember seeing pass like Simmons does in recent memory is LeBron James. He might be even more creative than James as a passer — that being the scariest part.
Is he the real deal or will he be a bust?
Usually they say don’t crown them until they have proven themselves, but take the flashes of brilliance as a prelude of what is to come –Ben Simmons is the real deal and his potential is definable at the moment. It is a shame he plays for the 76ers, and we all know their history when it comes to dealing with major talent (look no further than Allen Iverson) however, with the supporting cast they have in place in Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embid, Simmons might in fact shine more than we expected. It will be a false statement to claim he will make Philly an automatic playoff contender, nonetheless it is fair to say tickets will sell out quick and fans will love the upset this young man brings.
Over the coming years he will mature, turn overs will reduce, and more importantly Simmons will grow into a bonafide allstar caliber player. So, let us all sit back and enjoy the greatness that is about to unfold before our very eyes.