In the midst of the Philadelphia 76ers using the "process" to epically tank for seasons on end, they finally lucked out in 2016 and drafted a 6 foot 10 Australian basketball player that only a few had heard about in the United States. All that we knew was he had such a high ceiling and had the potential to be REALLY good.
During his Summer League appearance after being drafted, he showcased all of what he could be and shocked all spectators in attendance. It began to spark the "Next Great One" debate without even having played a real NBA game. But then, he had a season ending foot injury that caused him to miss his entire first year, placing his rookie debut on hold. It seemed like a bad omen.
As of now though, we know this player to be the marvelous rookie sensation whose name is Ben Simmons. He possesses the passing skills of an elite point guard, the athleticism of a small forward, and the tall body of a power forward. There is even talk about whether or not he is the next Lebron James or even the next Magic Johnson. High praise for a 21 year old who just made his first playoff appearance this year.
Yet, the talent is undeniable. His court vision is so well developed that the 76ers asked him to play point guard, which is usually a tough transition from any level to the NBA. Simmons has been up to the task for sure, as he has definitely catapulted this offense to a level most basketball fans did not think was possible this quickly after abysmal rosters before him.
However, every rookie has a weakness coming into the league. For Simmons, it's his long range shooting. In this new NBA, it is almost a requirement to be able to shoot from the perimeter, and some players have even revitalized their careers by simply learning how to be efficient three point shooters.
Still, this has not stopped Ben Simmons from thriving as a player. First off, he is usually surrounded by shooters whenever he is on the floor, whether it be JJ Redick, or Robert Covington and even their dynamic stretch five in Joel Embiid. Also, his dribbling ability at his size along with his impressive athleticism allows Simmons to make easy layups and dunks at will. So, it may not be imperative right now for him to have a jumper. Besides, he has plenty of time to learn.
One thing is for certain: all basketball fans are excited to see how far Ben Simmons can take the 76ers this year in the playoffs, particularly in the Eastern Conference. With Lebron's Cavaliers looking vulnerable, this could be the year that King James is dethroned and Prince Simmons rises to the occasion.
Photo Courtesy of NJ.com
By Joshua Hamer - Contributing Sports Writer