Ben Simmons has become a lightning rod In Philadelphia sports. While no one can question the two-time All-Star’s talent and skill, his unwillingness to shoot has caused heated debate.
Whether Simmons will validate the hype by firing away in Disney World remains to be seen, but there’s no question that Simmons, no matter which position he plays, will be crucial to the team’s success.
Monday marks the Australian’s 24th birthday. In honor of that, we use 10 stats to put Simmons’ career in perspective up to now.
Note: All stats are through the Sixers' 65 games this season and will change over the course of the team's eight seeding games. Also, steals did not become an official stat until 1973-74.
• For his career, Simmons has averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and eight assists per game. Not only is he one of three players to average at least 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists at 24 or younger, but as of now, he’s one of only three players to ever do it for their career. The other two: Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
• Simmons is the only player to ever average at least that stat line and shoot 55 percent or higher from the field.
• Simmons is one of two Sixers to average at least eight assists a game in a season at 24 or younger. Jrue Holiday is the only other Sixer to do so. Holiday did it in 2012-13 at the age of 22. If Simmons stays above eight assists per game through the final eight seeding games, he’ll have done it twice.
• Simmons has 1,713 assists through three seasons. That is the most through three seasons in franchise history. He’s currently first in Sixers history in assists per game and assist percentage (35.5).
• Simmons currently leads the league in steals per game at 2.1. The last Sixer to lead the league in steals was Allen Iverson back in 2002-03.
• Not only is Simmons leading the league in steals, he’s wreaking general havoc on the defensive end. He’s second in the NBA in deflections and leads the league in defensive loose balls recovered.
• Only five Sixers have averaged at least two steals a game at 24 or younger. If Simmons finishes the season at two or above, he’ll join Maurice Cheeks, Charles Barkley, Hersey Hawkins, Iverson and Andre Iguodala. He’s currently eighth in franchise history in steals per game (1.7).
• As far as advanced stats go, Simmons also has high standing in franchise history. He’s ninth in PER (player efficiency rating), which essentially measures a player’s per minute productivity. His true shooting percentage, which measures how efficient a player is from a shooting perspective, ranks 10th (.579).
• A lot is made of Simmons’ shot, but his free throw percentage proves that he’s put in work. He’s seen a steady increase from 56 percent his rookie year to 60 percent last season up to 62.7 percent this season. Over his last 12 games before the season was suspended, Simmons was shooting 73.4 percent from the line. That sample size was decent as Simmons averaged just under eight free throws a game in that span.
• None of these stats mean anything if they don’t contribute to winning, but Simmons has done that in a big way. In the three seasons Simmons has played for the Sixers, the team is 141-87, good for a .618 winning percentage (Simmons has missed 14 games in that span). In the three seasons before that, the Sixers were 56-190 (.227). Say what you want about Simmons, the Sixers have won quite a bit during his young career.
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