He may be the most critiqued player in the league and it’s understandable. He was selected #1 overall in his draft class, received LeBron comparisons dating back to high school, and his potential is just flat out off the charts. But the hate/criticism Simmons receives on a daily basis would make you out to think he isn’t one of the league’s best players.
Currently, the 23yr old Point Forward is in the midst of his best season to date and yet the main discussion at hand is that he hasn’t improved since entering the league. Below I highlight how a majority of fans and media are under appreciating Ben Simmons this season.
Legit DPOY Candidate
Entering the NBA just a few seasons ago, everyone knew that Ben Simmons had boatloads of potential, especially on the defensive end of the ball. I mean, he’s a near 7ft that moves around the court faster than anyone in the league. But as you may recall, scouts were worried about his effort or lack thereof on defense and weren’t sure he’d flash the skill at the NBA level.
Dating back to his rookie season, Simmons has been stellar defensively but he’s on a whole other level this year.
NBA Steals Leader – 2.2spg
4th in Defensive Win Shares – 3.3
LeBron James guarded by Ben Simmons:
‣ 26 Possessions
‣ 5 Points
‣ 22.2% FG (2-9)
‣ 16.7% 3P (1-6)
‣ 2 Turnovers
Simmons has held Butler, Tatum, Siakam, Irving, James to under 28.0% from the field.
Combined 27.8% from 3P (minus Tatum).
— Brock Landes (@LandesBrock) January 26, 2020
Efficiency On Offense
Yes, we know! Ben Simmons can’t shoot and refuses to even attempt jumpers most of the time. It’s frustrating but let’s not overlook the 23yr old’s success on the offensive end this season.
10th in FG% – 58.5%
5th in Assists Per Game – 8.3apg
16.8ppg (career high is 16.9ppg)
Ben not shooting jump shots often gets confused for “he can’t score the ball”, which is completely false. Averaging over 11 field goal attempts a game, he’s still one of the most efficient scorers in the league. That’s a value of Ben’s game that is overlooked because you could basically view missed shots as turnovers.
Yes, adding a consistent mid range shot to his game would take him to the next level but that’s basically asking for a perfect player considering Simmons excels at just about everything else. Be patient with the process, he is 23yrs old! Rome wasn’t build in a day.
Showing Up Against NBA Elites
A big topic at hand when it comes to Ben Simmons in seasons past was him under performing against top tiered teams, especially come playoff time. Although it remains to be seen what he does this postseason, he has been quite effective during the regular season against some of the league’s best teams.
2019-20 Season Splits:
Vs. MIL [1-1] – 13.0ppg (75fg%) 10.5rpg 11.5apg
Vs. BOS [3-1] – 18.3ppg 8.5rpg 5.8apg
Vs. LAL [1-0] – 28.0ppg 10.0rpg 8.0apg
Vs. HOU [0-1] – 29.0ppg 13.0rpg 11.0apg
Vs. TOR [1-2] – 14.3ppg (65fg%) 10.0rpg 10.3apg
This short little write up isn’t me saying that Ben Simmons is the perfect player and deserves no criticism. I just find it sad how we are overlooking a talent of this caliber just because of one flaw in his game.
Players like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum escape such criticism just because they could shoot from outside the paint, even though they’re nowhere near as good as Simmons is in a handful of other categories of the game. I get shooting is a huge emphasis in today’s NBA but we must stop under appreciating Ben Simmons.
Featured Image: Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jordan is the founder of Sports Are Philly and a graduate of Misericordia University.
You can follow him on Twitter @darealjlaw.