Ben Simmons is the most popular player on the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster and he is yet to play in a regular season game.
The No.1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft came from Louisiana State University, heralded as a prized jewel with skills similar to that of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and LeBron James. He swiftly gave the world a small preview during Summer League play, averaging 10.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in 28.8 minutes per game through six contests.
With training camp just around the corner, Simmons has now emerged as a top merchandise seller. Per Philly.com, the Australian-born forward has seen his jersey sales catapult to tenth best in the NBA.
“Since draft night, Fanatics.com is reporting that in terms of merchandise sales, Simmons is the 10th-best seller among National Basketball Association players. He's the highest-selling Philadelphia athlete in all sports across the Fanatics platform of hundreds of e-commerce sites, which includes SixersShop.com - the Sixers' official team store.”
The only players above Simmons? LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Russell Westbrook.
Leading up to the draft, James, who has called himself a mentor to Simmons, talked about how talented the 20-year-old is and will be.
"Well, I think he's a great young talent," James said. "I think the way he displays on the basketball court, we all notice. I think we all don't know just yet how great of a kid he is and how down to earth he is with the game of basketball and life in general.
Simmons is the latest chapter in the rebuilding of the 76ers franchise. After winning just 47 total games the last three years, allowing the team to land several high picks – Simmons included – the city of Brotherly Love is preparing to show love for an improved basketball team.
Jahlil Okafor, the third overall pick in last year’s draft has seen his name in a flurry of trade rumors. However, it’s likely he begins the year in Philadelphia, teaming with Simmons and fellow former third overall pick (2014) Joel Embiid. In fact, Simmons and Embiid have been friends for a long time are and the 20-year-old is excited to play in Embiid – who hasn’t played in an NBA game due to a myriad of injuries.
“He’s a great player, so I’m looking forward to playing with him,” Simmons said (via Metro Philadelphia). “Off the court we’re like brothers. We have fun.”
It’s fitting that in the same year that Allen Iverson, arguably the greatest player in 76ers history goes into the Hall of Fame, the hopeful future of the franchise starts his journey to NBA stardom. And he wants to do it on his own terms, despite constant comparisons.
"There's only one Magic [Johnson], one LeBron [James], [and] hopefully one Ben Simmons," he said to GiveMeSport one day before being selected first overall in the NBA Draft on June 23.