Colin Cowherd on Ben Simmons: ‘This kid’s an all-timer’

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Colin Cowherd evaluates Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons on The Herd and makes a lofty player comparison to a bona fide legend.

- I'm old enough that I've been watching the NBA for a long time. And I'm going to watch it until-- you know, the day I pass away, I'll be watching an NBA game in the hospital. I love the NBA, and I always have.

And I certainly like the transcendent stars. And there aren't very many. Every decade gives us about one or two guys.

The great eight. I've been watching the NBA now for four decades, 40 years. OK? Since I was like 10 years old. There have been-- I will call them the great eight. They have changed the game, not just won titles, changed the game.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There's never been a shot that unstoppable. Magic and Larry saved the league. Michael made it global. Shaq, for 10 years, was the most dominant player I've ever seen, including Michael Jordan. Tim Duncan for 15 years created a Texas dynasty. LeBron James, arguably GOAT. And Steph Curry is not one of the eight great players. But these are the game changers.

Steph Curry has made centers obsolete. You watch college games now. Duke, Kansas shoot 50 three pointers. That is Steph. Steph has changed the way we play the game with an emphasis on three pointers.

Three pointers existed 20 years before Steph. He mastered them. Everybody is looking now for the next Steph.

Those are the great eight. Kobe Bryant was good, but he's diet Michael Jordan. He's MJ lite. And Shaq was the bigger star. So those are the eight players, the great eight.

There are also-- because the NBA media is constantly trying to find the next star, I would call these the fake eight. I was told they were going to wreck the league. I was told they were going to be transformative. I was told they were going to change the West or the East or the entire-- the entire NBA. And they never did. And I never bought into them from day one. And you know I didn't, because I've spent 10, 15 years telling you they weren't going to change the league. Stevie Francis, Stephon Marbury, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin, Melo, Westbrook, Giannis, and Anthony Davis.

Giannis has been in this league five years. They're still in Milwaukee, not viable. Anthony Davis is a hell of a player. He's never won a playoff game. How many years has he been in this league?

Some of these players, like Giannis and Anthony Davis and Westbrook, are remarkable all-time talents. But they're the fake eight.

They may change losses to wins. They may win some awards. They're not changing anything about this league.

But there is a young player who I believe would make my great eight into a great nine. And you'll be surprised in Philadelphia, because I think it's Ben Simmons. When I watch many of these great young players-- Westbrook, Wall, Marbury-- I'm awed by their talent. But I think I wouldn't want to play with them.

You and I have all gone to the local YMCA. We've played in games with remarkably dynamic point guards. But you kind of feel like you're watching them, not playing with them.

Ben Simmons is different. No, he can't shoot, but Magic Johnson couldn't either for the first two years he was in this league. You're never going to rely on Ben Simmons to be your leading shooter. But he'll be dropping 23 a night like Magic Johnson, and on other nights giving you 17 assists like Magic. And on some nights, after an injury, he'll move into the four spot or center and play that, too. This kid's an all-timer.

I told you out of college I didn't care that he couldn't make the tournament. I didn't care what happened at LSU. He is 6' 9" and the closest thing I've seen to Magic Johnson. He is remarkable.

Now, does he have Magic's understanding of the game, acumen, basketball intelligence, life intelligence? I don't know. He's a kid, 21 years old. But I've been told for years and years of the Marburys, the Westbrooks. Do you really want to play with those guys?

Ben Simmons will not have to be a great shooter. Shooters are going to want to play with him. That's the greatness of Magic. That's the greatness of LeBron. And it's the greatness of Ben Simmons. It's an incredibly inclusive style.

We pay way too much attention to vertical jumps, slam dunks, and long threes. Somebody has got a pass. Magic, LeBron, and Simmons are going to be 20-plus scorers a game. Those are career averages. And Simmons won't have to be a great scorer.

I know, Philadelphia, you think I hate you. I don't. You're just better at this point than I thought you would be. And it's not about Embiid. It's about Ben Simmons.