Ben Simmons doesn’t fit your typical definition of a point guard.
While the jump shot has been slow to develop, if you don’t think Simmons should be an All-Star, you haven’t been playing close enough attention.
Just looking at the stats from his All-Star season last year, they’re pretty much in line with his numbers now. But if you take a look at his recent play, Simmons is on another level. In his last 22 games, Simmons is averaging 19.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.5 assists. Over his last 10? The points go up to 21.1.
While Joel Embiid missed nine games recovering from a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand, Simmons carried the Sixers to a 6-3 record. Given the team's recent history of playing without Embiid, that's no small thing.
Don’t look now, but Simmons is also not only getting to the line, he’s hitting them. Over his last four, he’s getting 9.8 attempts per contest. He’s hitting 76.9 percent of them … that’s not a typo.
His most impressive performance in this regard was against the Warriors Tuesday. With former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green hounding him all night, Simmons went just 4 of 11 from the field. Simmons was able to draw five fouls on Green and went 9 of 10 from the line. Whether it’s the uptick in frequency raising his confidence when shooting them or the other way around, the Sixers will take it. The recent surge has put him at 60.7 percent, which would be the highest mark of his young career.
Say what you want about him not taking jumpers, his shot has improved and that’s really starting to show up at the line. All of this to say, just because the evolution of his game hasn’t led him to taking super inefficient midrange jumpers doesn’t mean his game isn’t evolving.
While we’re talking about his offensive game, traditional point guards are supposed to be good passers who set their teammates up, right? His 8.4 assists are good for fifth in the NBA.
All of this and we haven’t even touched on his defense. At media day, Simmons mentioned his only individual goal was to win Defensive Player of the Year. Seemed a bit ambitious at the time, but more than halfway through the season, Simmons has established himself as a legitimate candidate.
He leads the NBA in steals (2.2), defensive loose balls recovered (1.1) and is tied for fourth in deflections (3.8) per game. He’s also third in the NBA in defensive win shares.
While those numbers are all mighty impressive, the job he’s done just manning people up has been nothing short of stellar. When you look at the All-Star caliber players Simmons has defended this season, he’s kept them all in check. Jimmy Butler (3 of 12), Jayson Tatum (3 of 11), Pascal Siakam (5 of 19), Bradley Beal (6 of 14), LeBron James (2 of 9), Russell Westbrook (4 of 13) and James Harden (3 of 9) have shot a combined 26 of 87. That’s a combined field goal percentage of 29.8.
Just because Simmons doesn’t fit a certain prototype doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be an All-Star. He is unquestionably one of the top 12 players in the Eastern Conference and should be in Chicago in a couple weeks.
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