NBA

Ben Simmons.

Former NBA champion says Ben Simmons can reach level of Michael Jordan and LeBron James

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Ben Simmons is exceeding expectations so far after making a terrific start to life in the NBA with the Philadephia 76ers.

The youngster has been a huge reason why the franchise is 6-6 to begin the campaign and has proven to be worth the wait after he missed the whole of last season with injury.

He has posted impressive numbers in his opening 12 games and has rubbed shoulders with Hall of Famers in the NBA record books with some of his stat lines.

The Aussie has notched seven double-doubles and two triple-doubles for the 76ers in his dozen appearances already and is making an even bigger impact than many had predicted.

Simmons' record of two triple-doubles – after nine games – is something Michael Jordan (58 games) and LeBron James (118 games) took quite some time to achieve.

Former three-time NBA champion and fellow Australian Luc Longley believes the 21-year-old has the ability to reach the same basketball heights as the duo.

"His skill package is fantastic and his physical tools are fantastic," Longley told Omnisport.

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

"One of the things both Michael Jordan and LeBron James have that we're yet to see in Ben is the ability to stay injury free. No one knows what someone's resilience is going to be like. That will be important for him.

"Champions like Michael and LeBron learn how to lead men and inspire team-mates. Because he is such a young man, we haven't seen that from Ben but it's something that will become apparent as time goes on. All that's got to be proved. On early evidence, he has all the tools to do that."

Longley - now working as assistant coach for the Australian national team - won his three rings playing alongside MJ with the Chicago Bulls from 1996 to 1998.

Even though he accepts it's too early to throw these comparisons at the Sixers star, he says it's common for players with his talent.

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers

"It's inevitable. We wouldn't be saying it if he wasn't good enough. We aren't saying it about many players," Longley said.

"The proof is in the pudding. I'm sure that's what Ben has his focus on is being that good. He is making a convincing case given he's only played a handful of games.

"Maybe it's too early to make those comparisons but these days you can't manage that in anyway. It's absolutely impossible. I'm sure Ben himself understands that it's early for those comparisons and he has lots of runs to put on the board.

"He is going to enjoy that, proving everybody right and some people wrong. That will be the fun part of it I imagine."

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards

This is a huge endorsement from his fellow countryman but Simmons has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as two of the game's greatest ever players.

But he certainly has all the tools to become a superstar in the league and players with his skill set don't come around often.

Topics:
Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
NBA
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan

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