Ben Simmons, 6’10”, LSU
2017-18 Season Review
Last year was a huge year for Simmons, posting 12 triple-doubles on his way to a runaway Rookie of the Year award. Simmons dominated for a majority of the season and was essential to the team’s 16 game winning streak to close the season, with the final 8 wins coming without the services of Joel Embiid.
Simmons posted impressive counting stats last season (15.8 PPG on 54.5% shooting, 8.2 AST, and 8.1 REB), but his impact goes far beyond the box score. Simmons was an elite defender last season and made some noise for the All-Defensive team. His 6’10” frame and 7’0” wingspan allowed Simmons to regularly clamp guards and big men alike.
2018 Offseason Notables
While Simmons’ basketball life was not nearly as well documented as his dating life, he did in fact play basketball this summer. Working with his brother Liam, Simmons developed his free throw and jump shot motions. Simmons is often heckled for his lack of a jumper, but he’s never really needed one before.
For this season, Simmons had no aspirations of coming in and nailing a bunch of three pointers, but instead focused on an area where he struggled mightily last season: the Charity Stripe (via NBA.com/sixers)
“You’ve got to start slowly,” said Simmons, who shot 56.0 percent from the foul line, and scored 80.4 percent of his points in the point (fifth-most in the NBA). “If it’s adding a free throw that gets up to 80.0 percent, that’s about five more points right there. If you add little things and keep adding over time, that’s how you become great.”
The reason why Ben Simmons is considered to be a top 20 player is his elite playmaking ability. Simmons’ court vision is only matched by that of LeBron James, with his 6’10” frame allowing him to see angles that others would miss.
His quickness in transition is one of his best abilities, leading to easy shots at the rim or wide open chances for sharpshooters J.J. Redick and Robert Covington. Simmons had 8.2 assists per game last season, and that number was largely due to his ability to take advantage of transition opportunities.
Simmons posted a high overall shooting percentage last season, but this is not telling of his shooting ability. Simmons made an abysmal 56% from the foul line and was unable to stretch the floor in any meaningful way, crowding the paint and limiting Joel Embiid’s impact. This lack of shooting was a major reason for his brutal 1 Point playoff performance against the Boston Celtics.
Simmons does not need to be a star three point shooter, but he certainly needs to have some sort of serviceable mid-range jump shot in order to unclog the paint for Embiid and let him bully smaller defenders.
Playing off the ball
This is not necessarily a weakness for Simmons, just something we have not seen much of from him thus far. Last season, Simmons played nearly all of his minutes at the point, but with the addition of Markelle Fultz, Simmons will likely often slide to the four.
Simmons has great potential as an off-ball cutter: his unique combination of size, speed, and court vision creates a picture perfect off-ball scorer. This picture has not quite been painted to this point, as Simmons has played very few minutes, so it will be interesting to see how Simmons is able to take advantage of this new wrinkle to his game.
Predictions for 2018-19
This season, Simmons should post a line of 17 PPG, 7 AST, 9 REB on 52% shooting. Markelle Fultz should be taking over some of the ball handling duties, so I expect Ben to play quite a bit more at the 4, adding to his rebounding total but limiting his ability to create just a bit.
In my mind, the most important factors for Simmons are outside of these stats. Ideally, he can shoot somewhere in the 70% range from the free throw line. This would increase his ability as a scorer and remove any possibility of a Hack-A-Ben gameplan for opposing teams.
Simmons and Brett Brown have already set goals for the season ahead, namely making the All-Defensive first team. The Sixers have three players with potential to make this team in Simmons, Covington, and Embiid, and with Simmons making defense a priority this season, their defense should be near the top of the league.
Simmons is on course for a stellar season and should have no trouble imposing his will on opposing teams. With the development of a serviceable jump shot and a free throw that falls at a decent clip, Simmons could be a top 10 player this season, but these factors are easier said than done. Simmons is a sure fire All Star even without this development, but the long term success of the team depends largely on his improvement.
Editor’s Note: Beginning September 27 and continuing up until the start of the season, we will be profiling each member of the current 76ers’ roster. Be sure to check out our schedule below and hear what our writers expect from our Sixers players.
|September 27||Jonah Bolden||October 8||Wilson Chandler|
|September 29||Shake Milton||October 10||Robert Covington|
|September 30||Zhaire Smith||October 11||Dario Saric|
|October 1||Furkan Korkmaz||October 13||JJ Redick|
|October 3||Amir Johnson||October 14||Markelle Fultz|
|October 4||Mike Muscala||October 15||Ben Simmons|
|October 6||Landry Shamet||October 16||Joel Embiid|
|October 7||TJ McConnell|