Ben Simmons is a power forward from Louisiana State University. Simmons is 6’10 and has a wingspan of 6’11. For the year, he averaged, 34.9 minutes per game, 19.2 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, 4.8 assists per game, 2.0 steals per game, while shooting 56.0% from the field, and 33.3% from three.
- Elite combination of size, speed, and athleticism
- Efficient scorer
- Can finish through contact
- Point guard vision
- Excellent passer
- Great ball handler
- Maneuvers traffic very well
- Unselfish with the basketball
- Phenomenal rebounder
- Good footwork
- High basketball IQ
- Team oriented
- Great attitude
- Leader on and off the court
- High floor
- Unproven jumper
- Limited three point shooter
- Needs to get to the line more often
- Shot confidence
- Mediocre free throw shooter
- Defensive effort
- Needs to add weight
The one thing Ben Simmons has going against him in this draft cycle is that he is such a well-rounded player, he is getting critiqued for minor details of his game, and now the debate for his worth as a number one overall selection has been questioned.
Offensively, Ben Simmons is very gifted in the paint. Simmons uses his excellent footwork to get into his position to dominate the opposition in the paint. He is comfortable using either hand to finish at the rim, but does prefer his right. He is a left handed shooter, but will switch hands, and does force some bad shots when he shoots right handed. Uses his speed and ball handling to get past his opponents, and get easy buckets at the rim. At the next level, Simmons could look to attack the rim more, as of right now, he does a lot of drive and dish to his less talented teammates. When stepping away from the paint, Simmons is very raw. His shooting mechanics show very little flaws, he just does not show the confidence to use it frequently. With his jumper being his only real flaw, at 19, Simmons has plenty of time to fix this and elevate his game to a whole new level. The ability to lead the attack at 6’10 is remarkable. We have already seen the dominance Giannis Antetokounmpo was able to do once he was handed the point guard responsibilities in Milwaukee. His gift to see the court helps create tremendous opportunities for his teammates, and at the next level his assist numbers might even double with scorers who can actual shoot. The only knock you can have on his point guard style of play, is that he can become passive on offense, and go through scoring droughts. He needs to take control of his team more of offense, and show people his ability to be a number one star for a team.
On the defensive side of the ball, Simmons has excellent awareness, but just does not show any passion to perform on this side of the ball. His overall awareness of the other team’s awareness, mixed with his tremendous length has made Simmons a great thief of the ball, which shows by his 2.0 steals per game this season. His perimeter defense continues to suffer from his lack of focus. He has good footwork and length to contain his opponents, but will slack off giving them room to get a shot off, or drive past him. If the opponent does try to drive, Simmons will try to use his length, without moving his feet to strip the ball, which could present foul trouble in the NBA. On his interior defense, Simmons lacks the needed strength to not get bullied by bigger power forwards at the next level. Simmons will also give up on his man if he gets beat on a move. He has shown the potential to be a great pick-and-roll defender, but as the case with most of the defensive notes, his effort fades away. Rebounding is one of the biggest attributes Simmon’s will bring in from day one. He uses his physical attributes and basketball IQ to track the ball well, and scoop up anything near him. The natural aggression he shows when going after the ball makes you believe he takes passion in this ability.
Overall, Ben Simmons is the star player many people have been waiting for to rebuild their franchise around. He has the ability to step in from day one, and be the go to offensive piece, as well as a dominant presence on the boards. His jumper is the only thing holding him back from being one of the most dominate prospects in recent memories, but he has the mechanics to make it work, just needs to build his confidence, and let it fly. With the right coaching, Simmons has the intangibles to become a defensive menace, but he will need a coach to keep the fire lit under him. When looking at his draft range, Simmons will be a top two pick. His defensive limitations, and lack of reliable range make him a hard fit for a lot of the current lottery teams, but the reward outweighs the risk. If Philadelphia does get the first overall selection, he just does not offer what they need, and will force them to make multiple trades to make things work. Teams like Los Angeles, Boston, or Phoenix who have the next greatest chances of acquiring a top pick could use him instantly. Simmons will be a tremendous player at the next level, but I do not see him eclipsing a LeBron James type of level, but will see countless All-Star appearances.
Pro Comparison: Blake Griffin
Many people were quick to compare Simmons to LeBron James. Although the uncanny athletic abilities are similar, James still has the upper hand. Many people forget Griffin did not have much a jumper coming out of school, and that has developed nicely over his career. Griffin also showed good leadership qualities, but was always questioned on whether he could be the difference maker to get to the finals or not, and that is still questioned to this day.
Offensively, college Griffin and Simmons are very similar. Neither player showed a great ability to stretch the floor, but were dominant in the paint. Griffin was not as polished of a passer coming out of college as he is now, which gives you a lot of confidence with Simmons going forward. Griffin has also developed nice ball handling skills for his position, but again Simmons is more polished coming out of college. Griffin and Simmons shared the ability to hit a jumper coming out of college, but neither showed much confidence in themselves. Griffin has transformed himself into one of the top twenty players in the league, and one of the most gifted offensive power forwards in the league. He has shown the ability to be a good co-star, but not the ability to be the guy, and I think Simmons will follow up into this type of career.
On the defensive side of the ball, neither player is a standout at their position. Griffin is about twenty-five pounds heavier than Simmons, so he does not get bullied in the paint as much as Simmons. Both players have natural intangibles to be defensive menaces, but their lack of effort is very apparent. Neither player has ever shown to be a consistent shot blocker either. Rebounding is a huge plus for both of these two players. Griffin’s numbers are not as great as they could be, as he has to deal with the rebounding machine of DeAndre Jordan in his frontcourt.
Blake Griffin is a good floor for the potential of Ben Simmons. Many people questioned how Griffin would be able to transition into the NBA without a jumper, and he proved many experts wrong. If Simmons can develop a jumper, Blake Griffin will e a floor comparison for Simmons. Without showing any effort to improve his defensive attributes, LeBron James comparisons are just too farfetched. James dominates on both ends of the court, and that is something you cannot say about Simmons.
By: Mac Crowe, @Mac_Truck17