What exactly did everyone expect from Ben Simmons last year? If there’s a person who envisioned Simmons averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game while shooting 54.5 percent, according to Basketball Reference, please raise your hand. Simmons is way ahead of where he should be this early in his career. What many may have forgotten is that this is a player who was drafted to fit into the frontcourt for the Philadelphia 76ers. Instead, he has thrived at possibly the toughest position in the NBA, all at the size of 6-foot-10. Scary!
Ben Simmons finished third in the NBA with 12 triple-doubles last season. The only two players ahead of him were LeBron James (18) and Russell Westbrook (25). That’s great company to have, not just for a rookie, but for any player. But yet, here is Simmons, just a rookie doing things on the court a seasoned veteran is supposed to do.
No, Simmons did not make the All-Star team, and while some Sixers’ fans felt that was the right call, they were wrong. No disrespect to the likes of Jimmy Butler or Goran Dragic, but if you didn’t want to play (Butler) then give your spot up to someone who will. Dragic was a good choice, but he’s not better than Simmons.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Simmons is that he was the best rookie in the NBA. While that may be true, Simmons has earned the title as one of the best players in the league. Forget the rookie stigma that has been attached to his name.
Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid took the Philadelphia 76ers to a place that was reserved for them in 2019 or 2020. They were not supposed to be this good this fast. And yet, they found themselves fighting in the second round with the Boston Celtics. Although Simmons and the 76ers would succumb to the Celtics and head coach Brad Stevens’ excellence, Simmons still refused to crack under the intense lights of the NBA Playoffs.
All throughout last season and the playoffs, fans were calling for him to shoot. They wanted Simmons to transform his game overnight. That wasn’t going to happen. This is the same game which took him from Australia to the NBA, and now people wanted him to become the next Ray Allen in a playoff series. No, Simmons did the right thing here. He stuck to his fundamentals.
What’s needed is for the Sixers to surround Simmons with the players who can do what he can’t and not players who will force him to do what he can’t.
Simmons may not be Westbrook or Damian Lillard, yet, but he’s exactly what the Philadelphia 76ers need.