Tha Sports Junkies 101

Ben Simmons – The 76ers Newest Number One

PhilliesFan136/ via Flickr


And with the number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft the Philadelphia 76ers select…  Ben Simmons forward from LSU.  For a die-hard fan base that has been on the wrong end of a painful rebuilding process for the better part of three seasons, these words are symphonic music to their ears.

Traditionally one of the diciest double-edged swords in all of sports has to be drafting number one overall in your respective draft.  Hit and your franchise’s foreseeable future can be secured for ten years plus.  Whiff and be set back another five.  Miss on that pick and inevitably it is accompanied by personnel cuts, awkward press conferences, and a strained fan base.

For well over a year now basketball fans have heard relentlessly about this mysterious Ben Simmons.  Touted for his freakish athleticism and compared by some as the next Lebron James.  Even though his LSU team drastically under performed in his one year with the Tigers, missing the NCAA Tournament all together, Simmons was widely considered this year’s consensus number one pick.

In a sport, really unlike any other, the NBA is driven by stars.  A single game can be controlled and won by one single dominate player.  Personal feelings aside, look at the early Lebron years with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  James was able to somehow take his team deep into the playoffs year after year, with the second best player on the squad being Mo Williams.  Is that something that we can come to expect from this year’s number one pick?

In his one year playing collegiate ball Simmons averaged 19.2 ppg on 56% shooting from the field for LSU.  In this year’s NBA Summer League Simmons scoring dropped to 12.3 ppg, but went on to average 7.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists while being named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team.  At first glance the numbers don’t jump out as a superstar in the making.  But Simmons’ story is told in the game film.

In a league dominated by fast pace and three-point shooting nothing is as coveted, outside of Steph Curry, as having a point forward who can facilitate for their teammates and play above the rim.  Those are characteristics that most define Ben Simmons play.  SimmonsSummer League highlight reel is chalked full of dazzling assists that rival those of Steph Curry, but with the size and speed of Lebron James.

Unusual for a first year player, Simmons plays with a great ability to know where his teammates are and will be in the flow of their offense.  Unlike most rookies who come into the league who have to adjust to the speed and pace of an NBA game, Simmons looks to be able to jump right into the race.

However, as the Summer League went on and teams adjusted to his style of play they began to sag off and daring him to hit the jumper, a shot that he has been reluctant to take in his career.  Moving forward he needs to work on improving his shooting touch, much like Blake Griffin of the Clippers, and cutting down on his turnovers (3.8pg in the Summer League).

Barring injuries however, the upcoming season for the 76ers may actually be one that their fans can be excited for as we take a look at their respective roster.  They have a young, although inexperienced team, with Simmons, Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric.  Now with the addition of NBA veterans Jerryd Bayless, Elton Brand and Gerald Henderson the team that seems to have been in a painful rebuild actually have a future that looks bright and full of potential.