Ben Simmons’ NBA career is off to an incredible start.
Averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 34.9 minutes per game, the 21-year-old point guard is a cornerstone of “the process” that the Philadelphia 76ers organization followed for the last few years in the hopes of rebuilding.
Despite his stellar numbers and the fact that teammate Joel Embiid was named an All-Star starter off of the 30-25 Sixers, Simmons was not voted into the 2018 All-Star Game. Not only that, but when Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall and Kevin Love all got injured and had to be replaced with Eastern Conference players, NBA commissioner Adam Silver selected Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker over Simmons.
All three were worthy of the honor, but it’s obvious that Simmons was the biggest snub in the Eastern Conference.
But although it may hurt right now, in the end, it’s the best possible outcome for the rookie star.
Respect from his peers
Before Simmons helped Team World to a 155-124 victory with a 11-point, 13-rebound, four-steal performance, all 14 of the Rising Stars Challenge players were asked who they thought would be the first to make the All-Star Game. The only rule was that they couldn’t pick themselves.
While some of the players selected their teammates, seven in total picked Simmons, followed by three votes for Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram apiece.
“Probably Ben Simmons. It’s known he’s a good player, he does it all. He has very high professionalism about it, and I think that he will be the one. Him or Jaylen Brown. Jaylen Brown’s my guy, I like competing against him,” Atlanta Hawks swingman Taurean Prince said.
“I would say Ben Simmons, probably the next year. I think he should have been in this year. He’s a very talented player,” stated Indiana Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis.
“I will probably go with Ben Simmons. I think he should have made it this year. I think next year he’s got it for sure,” Denver Nuggets sharpshooter Jamal Murray noted.
Simmons’ teammate Dario Saric said, “I think first for all players will probably be Ben. Joel is already there. There are a couple of guys on the U.S. team who are very talented, who will one day be big stars, but I think Ben will be first.”
When he was asked, Simmons replied, “Other than myself, hopefully Dario”.
Therefore, it’s obvious that his fellow rookies understand exactly how developed his game is.
The revenge factor
In his first game after finding out that he wasn’t selected as an All-Star, Simmons went out and casually dropped 19 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists in 39 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. Only one other player in NBA history posted a stat line like that and he completed the triple-double in just 21 minutes and 52 seconds, a few minutes longer than what was the fastest one ever recorded at the time.
He has also squared off twice against Dragic since he was named a replacement over him. In those contests, Simmons led the Sixers to wins with dominant individual performances. On February 2, he had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting with six rebounds, five assists, a block, two steals and no turnovers in 35 minutes. Then on February 14, he went 8-of-15 shooting for an 18-point, 12-rebound, 10-assist triple-double with four steals.
That was the last game before the All-Star break, in case you were wondering.
Therefore, it’s obvious that when he feels wronged in some way, his game shifts to a new gear. Although that type of emotional play can sometimes lead to negativity on the court, he has been able to use his emotions to his advantage so far, which is difficult to do as a highly-touted rookie.
Something to strive for
There’s no denying that Simmons will be a staple of the All-Star Game moving forward.
Perhaps the best overall rookie since LeBron James, Simmons will have an opportunity to develop into a kind of player that has never been seen before at the point guard position. At 6’10”, he’s a matchup nightmare for every club and his elite defensive ability and versatility already has him among the league’s best.
It’s clear that he has some lofty goals for himself, but at times he has appeared a bit over-confident.
"I want to be an All-Star honestly. If I'm an All-Star I feel like I'm Rookie of the Year so I don't really look into that too much. I know I'm the best rookie in the league,” he told ESPN in mid-January.
After posting his insane triple-double against the Bulls, he said, "I want to be the greatest to play the game. It's going to take a lot of work, but I believe I can get there.”
"My goal is to be the best in the league," he told ESPN before the season. "I'm not worried about other rookies -- I'm worried about the guys at the top, and that's where I want to be.”
There’s no denying that Simmons might have the talent to one day become one of the best to ever play the game. But, being snubbed forced humility upon him.
And that’s good for him.
Even if he is the NBA’s best rookie and even if he knows he can be an all-time great, that doesn’t mean anything until he actually accomplishes something. Since the NBA is a league containing ultra-talented, hungry individuals, that means that someone will always be gunning to be the next face of the league, exactly like he's trying to do.
Although Simmons will likely be the Rookie of the Year, Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell can’t be too far behind. He has carried his club, leads his team in scoring and is one of the major reasons for their current 11-game winning streak. If the Jazz make the playoffs and the Sixers don’t, there will likely be a strong case made for him to be the Rookie of the Year over Simmons.
Therefore, the Aussie shouldn’t get ahead of himself. There's also a glaring hole in his game: a complete inability to shoot the ball with range. Being an All-Star snub will most likely encourage him to spend the offseason developing a consistent mid-range or even a long-range jumper.
Silver’s decision may have hurt him in the short-run, but in the long-run, it was probably the best thing for the young, confident star.News Now - Sport News