The Philadelphia 76ers are still waiting on Ben Simmons to make his NBA debut. In the meantime, how much of an impact can he make for Philly this season?
One of the biggest unknowns for the Philadelphia 76ers this season has to be rookie Ben Simmons. There is an obviously desire within the fanbase to watch him finally play. The suspense has the city of Philadelphia on the edge of its seat.
Many see the number one overall pick as the answer to the Sixers’ problems. Ben Simmons has received comparisons to the likes of LeBron James and Magic Johnson. Obviously, this kind of generational talent will generate an immense amount of hype. For a team that has lacked a real distributor, Simmons fits the bill.
Ever since high school, scouts anointed Simmons as the next phenom to take the NBA by storm. Yet, with that kind of talent comes more scrutiny. For instance, back when he played college ball for LSU, Simmons received criticism for not carrying his team to an NCAA playoff berth. He was seen as not having proper leadership skills. There were even those who believed that he coasted on talent alone, not trying to improve his game.
Now, whether or not that kind of judgement is warranted is irrelevant. The fact that he made it this far with that ability speaks to the kind of generational talent he actually is. In addition, that LSU team lacked any real talent other than Simmons as well. Regardless, Ben Simmons had the talent to carry that team for the majority of the season.
What gets lost in the shuffle here is what he actually brings to the table. As a talent, the guy is practically unmatched. As a freshman, Simmons averaged 19.2 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per game. On top of that, he was selected to the AP All-American 2nd team. Considering the lack of talent around him, Simmons was still able to shine.
Simmons’ Impact for the Philadelphia 76ers
Now, how does he fit with the Sixers? Well, considering the Sixers are still in the process of finding that real identity, he fits in quite well. While the Sixers have serviceable distributors in Sergio Rodriguez and T.J. McConnell, those guys don’t quite fit the started mold in the long run. It makes sense for Philly’s sake to go with a guy who’s built to last in the NBA.
With his 6-10, 240 pound frame, Ben Simmons will be able to hold his own for years to come. Whether he plays the 1, the 3, or the 4, Simmons can find success. Once you find your primary ball-handler in the NBA, everything else becomes easier.
Simmons Should Sizzle
With the current talent pool that the Philadelphia 76ers have, Simmons should thrive. For starters, you’ve got a 7-2, 250 pound center in Joel Embiid. Every pass in his direction is a good one. He’s one of the craftiest, explosive centers in the game, as a rookie no less. He might even become an all-star. With his post moves, defense, and shooting stroke, there’s no way you wouldn’t thrive dishing the rock to him.
Also, you’ve got guys like Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas. While they aren’t number 1 scoring options, they do have the tools to play quality minutes as role players. RoCo and Sauce could become the equivalents to the San Antonio Spurs’ Danny Green and Boris Diaw. Covington has emerged as the Sixers’ premier “3 and D” player.
Well, let’s say Ben Simmons comes back right before the All-Star break. Specifically, let’s say he comes back Saturday, February 11th against the Miami Heat. I only say this because it makes sense for him to debut at home, and the Sixers play a slew of away games in in February this year.
Hypothetically, that gives him 30 games to play. Let’s also factor in that he might be on an Embiid-esque minutes restriction. On top of that, he might not play every game in that stretch. The rest of this season would be used to help get Ben Simmons back in motion.
That said, it doesn’t mean Simmons won’t make an impact. A guy who can dish the rock the way he does is hard to find. Let’s not forget that the Sixers have already surpassed their win total from last year. This is a much better team than the one from the 2015-2016 season. That increased talent pool makes Simmons life even easier. Just imagine Simmons and Embiid running the pick and roll. It could happen soon.
If I had to put a number on it, I’d say that the Sixers win 14 of the last 30 games that they play. Obviously, we don’t know when Ben Simmons is coming back. Yet, with the way he played in college and the preseason, the Sixers can easily win 28-30 games this year. For a team that went 10-72 last year, that’s a major improvement. Once Simmons makes his return, that projection becomes more likely to become a reality.