Christmas 2015 Lookback: Ben Simmons Made Santa’s Nice List

December 2015 was a time of great uncertainty for the NBA worst Philadelphia 76ers and for top prospect Ben Simmons. But fate seemed to follow the script written by the Sixer Sense.

December 24, 2015 found the Philadelphia 76ers struggling with uncertainty.  Similarly, Louisianna State University point forward Ben Simmons also struggled with uncertainty.  For both, this was a very challenging point in time. For the Philadelphia 76ers, the team had reached an all-time low point of 1-30.  That precipitated the owners decision to bring on executive Jerry Colangelo to turn things around.  The team did not yet have the services of center Joel Embiid, had not yet persuaded Dario Saric to join the NBA from Europe, and had limited play from a third of the roster.

Meanwhile, Ben Simmons had his on trials and tribulations to endure. He had the spirit, the intelligence, and the savvy of an NBA guard packed into the body of an NBA power forward.  He was playing point forward for the 7-4 LSU Tigers, powering that team in the midst of a 19.2 point, 11.8 rebound, 4.8 assists per game season.

But it would not be enough to earn the LSU Tigers an invitation to the big dance, the NCAA tournament. Top NCAA prospect Ben Simmons would be shut out of championship competition.

The Road Less Traveled

Two separate paths, both on a decline, and little talk of optimism.  But it was the path that would collide both to that moment in time that both would ultimately share in the annals of NBA history in the making.

“With the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select forward Ben Simmons, Louisianna State University!”

At the moment the selection was made, the Philadelphia 76ers needed everything. Coincidentally, Simmons offered just about everything an NBA team could ask for. But there was a debate, as there is with every NBA Draft. Who should the team select? But Ben Simmons brought complexity to that perennial debate. Now it was not just who should be selected, but at what position should Simmons play?

And so, the fork in the road.

Point Me In Right Direction

Many had professed expertise on the matter.  Many had examined Simmons’ size and dictated that he would need to play forward, end of discussion.

But that discussion had to include Ben Simmons at some point. When that happened, the narrative changed a great deal.  In a rare interview with Sports Illustrated Luke Winn, Ben Simmons shared his passion for the role he most covets in the NBA:

“Transition, for sure,” he says. “Getting the rebound and going, that’s probably the most fluid part of my game. Just experiment and be creative. I feel more comfortable running the point, because I know I can lead a team and take control of games.” – Ben Simmons interview January 2016

And so, it became the quest of Simmons to land on a team willing to give him that chance at point guard. There was only one: the Philadelphia 76ers.

Which brings us to the present. Ben Simmons injured his foot while practicing before the season began. As such, the team, and the fans, have had to wait patiently for the debut of the top rookie.

But that wait will soon end.

The Wait Nearly Over

The Philadelphia 76ers are in a far better position this year than last. Like a young child eager to unwrap presents on Christmas morn, fans have had to wait eagerly for Ben Simmons arrival. But rather than scold and tell all to go back to bed, let me offer a different message on Christmas Eve 2016.

We proclaimed the positive impact of Joel Embiid, when the world cautioned against optimism.  That same “he will make a huge difference” will happen when Ben Simmons arrives to this team as well.

You see, Ben Simmons was not the only one to make the nice list.  Santa noticed the incredible patience of the entire Philadelphia 76ers fanbase.  And so, you will all be happy with the presence of Ben Simmons this year.

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