Last season’s untimely Jones fracture in top overall selection Ben Simmons’ foot proved to be a testament to The Process – The moniker for Philadelphia’s half-decade rebuild.
Although major injuries tend to damper athletic development, Simmons’ time off allowed him to become acclimated to the pace of the professional game. Fast forward to the present, and Simmons has been fully unleashed upon the association. Try not to pinch yourself reading his averages through his first 14 NBA games: 17.8 PPG / 9.2 REB / 7.7 AST / 1.9 STL
What’s even more astounding is the fashion in which Simmons dominates his opponents. Being a 6’10 point guard with freakish natural athleticism and an uncanny ability to see the floor, Simmons presents a Magic Johnson-esque matchup problem. Smaller, quicker guards are simply out-muscled to the rim, while he bolts past defenders his size. This rare skillset allows Simmons to get to the rim almost effortlessly; take a look at his shot chart to begin the year.
Immediately jumping off the page is the complete absence of three-point shooting. Of his 202 total field goal attempts this season, only seven came from beyond fifteen feet of the basket; all of which were misses. Simmons’ broken jumper has permitted NBA defences to sag off from deep at a disrespectful rate. Unlike the majority of his rookie predecessors, Simmons’ ludicrous basketball IQ allows him to counter precisely and methodically.
In the following two scenarios, defenders dare him to shoot by completely disregarding Simmons coming over screens. Instead of aimlessly throwing up bricks, Simmons intelligently ad-libs to a pick-and-pop with fellow rising star Joel Embiid (Sure, its Dirk on defence); in the second play, he uses the space and his freakish athleticism as a runway to the hoop.
Through just 14 games, Ben Simmons has proven to be a true basketball anomaly. Remember that Simmons is still a rookie; imagine if he figures out his jump shot in five years. Did somebody say un-guardable? Ultimately, we’re looking at a futuristic Magic Johnson, or a ripped Shaun Livingston with better rebounding – its just too early to tell.