If at the beginning of the season you had strong suspicions the Philadelphia 76ers rookie was a lab experiment press 1. If by mid-season you were still having seconds thoughts about him being an alien, please press 2. If by now you haven’t figured out what the hell is going on, you are just another one among us. Don’t press anything. Forget everything you’ve seen before. Sit back, relax and enjoy the stardom in the making.
The Australian rookie sensation Ben Simmons has been amazing during his rookie season in a way few could predict. We all kind of knew that something special was about to come considering he was 6’10 and playing point guard in the beginning of the season. However, with more than 10 games to finish the regular season Simmons has already surpassed the Magic Johnson record for triple doubles in a rookie season of 7. Now second only to Oscar Robertson, 26 (He’s called Mr. Triple Double for a reason after all). To add more to his case, after the win against the Charlotte Hornets, on 19th march, Simmons surpassed no other than Allen Iverson for the franchise record of most games with 10 or plus assists with 19 games. That’s the most by any rookie in the league since John Wall (25) in 2010-11.
The Aussie’s rookie season has been filled with broken records and he could add even more before the season’s out. He’s just 34 assists shy of breaking another Allen Iverson’s record: the most assists in a season by a rookie. He has now 13 more games to do it. He will most likely just need half of those games to achieve it.
When the Hornets game finished and the Sixers collected the win, the players went back to the locker room and after reaching yet another triple double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists without committing a single turnover, the journalists went after Joel Embiid instead, because he finished the game with 9 turnovers. That’s abnormal for Embiid, I give you that, but can you see how amazing this Simmons kid is? Even after such an amazing tripe double performed during his rookie season reporters find it so casual that they thought Joel’s turnovers were more important. Kid was amazing and normal at the same time.
Simmons is a freak of nature. His athleticism, combined with his basketball IQ, awareness to control the tempo of the game and that arsenal of tricky shots inside the paint, that reminds me of those traffic spin moves of Earl “the pearl” Monroe, that’s just ridiculous. Physically its easy to compare him to LeBron James and sometimes his passes are LeBron-esques. Nevertheless, LeBron style of play is way different than Simmon’s. However, the comparisons with the King during Simmons rookie season are indicative of the legacy that we are about the witness.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown has been approaching the game differently this season, majorly because of Simmons background playing as a Power Forward, and most of the times, during Sixers games, you can the Point Guard Ben Simmons, starting the offence in the post, at the so-called Karl Malone spot, the Power Forward, and from there Simmons tries to make the best read available: The outside pass if the opponent decides to double team him. Maybe he plays one on one if he has the height advantage, and most of the nights he has. He’s 6’10 playing the point! And sometimes he even waits for his teammates to cut to the paint, he waits so the defence can close out so he can pass across the court for an open three. Yes, we are talking about the rookie Ben Simmons, any similarity to LeBron James is just a coincidence.
There’s only few players who have been able to achieve 15 assists and zero turnovers on such a young stage of his career. Chris Paul, Penny Hardaway, Jason Kidd and John Stockton are the others to do so.
But enough of rookie talking because by finishing the game with 15 assists and no turnovers alongside a full triple double, Simmons found his way into the bid dogs records table conversation. Simmons joined Magic Johnson, Russell Westbrook, Fat Lever and Scott Skiles as the only players to do so in league history.
Simmons is the real deal, and yes, he does benefit from playing alongside 7’2 beast Joel Embiid. But the kid his a beast himself too and as the season his developing he’s finding his rhythm and feeling more confident and that’s been all over the stat sheet lately.
His numbers have been even better after the all star break. The points decreased a bit from 16.4 points per game to 15.3 points, however the rest of his game is thriving since the arbitrary mid-season break that is the all-star weekend. His assists are up from 7.3 per game to 9.0, and his efficiency has spiked too. Perhaps thanks to his slightly lower shot selection, Simmons’ True Shooting Percentage is 60.8 percent in the 11 games since the all-star break.
Ben Simmons is still 21 years old and yet by analysing his rookie season I could only compare him to few greats that played the game. That must mean something. And remember: #TrustTheAussie