With a newfound confidence and a freshly minted 3 point shot, Ben Simmons is fast becoming the Philadelphia 76ers’ worst kept secret to success.
Is there a more exciting player in the NBA than Ben Simmons?
I mean sure, players like James Harden score more points, Giannis Antetokounmpo exists, and Joel Embiid is the NBA’s greatest showman, but my god, when Simmons knocks down a 3, there isn’t a more electrifying sight in all of sports.
It’s pure magic.
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And in the Philadelphia 76ers‘ 141-94 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Simmons put together the most exciting game of his career, and quite possibly the most exciting game of any player this season on any team in all of basketball.
Now granted, the game wasn’t particularly exciting, as the 76ers held a 36-18 lead a the end of the first quarter, but in a game without Embiid and Josh Richardson, Simmons took it upon himself to give the Wells Fargo Centers’ sold-out crowd a show they will never forget.
In 26 minutes of action, eight minutes below his season average, Simmons scored 34 points – the most he’s recorded as a pro. He also racked up three rebounds, seven assists, and two steals, none of which were particularly important to the final score, but they did play a role in some pretty sick fast-break slams.
Wait, am I forgetting something? Oh yeah, Simmons hit his second 3 as a pro, this time on a supreme dish from point guard Trey Burke.
I don’t care if Simmons starts taking five a game, it will never get old.
But while Simmons’ big time performance against the Cavs was very much big time, it’s not the exception to the rule; Simmons is playing out of his mind.
Maybe it’s some newfound confidence after earning a max extension over the summer, but over the first 23 games of the 2019-20 season, Simmons has become every bit the player he was billed as coming out of LSU – maybe even better.
Logging the brunt of his time at the one, but occasionally moonlighting at power forward as evidenced by his second 3, Simmons has developed into an even more savvy ball handling passer, while improving his decision-making at both ends of the court.
And most importantly of all, Simmons is playing his role with a newfound confidence that’s starting to border on legit swagger.
You see, while Simmons’ otherworldly skill set has always been video game-esque, his perceived nonchalant attitude has rubbed fans of the Sixers, and basketball in general, the wrong way. May I present some sample quotes for your reading pleasure:
“If Simmons actually cared about his game, he’d learn to shoot 3s.”
“Ben Simmons should spend more time in the gym than with Kardashians.”
And the coup de grace – say it with me, if you will:
“Ben Simmons shoots with the wrong hand.”
Now to me, these complaints always rang hollow, as a player’s personality has about as much to do with their on-court abilities as the shoes they decide to endorse, but watching Simmons flash a smirk when he knows he did something amazing is pretty darn cool.
If Ben Simmons can maintain this newfound ‘smartest guy in the room’ swagger while continuing to co-exist alongside Joel Embiid then we may still see the day when the 6-foot-10 point guard from Australia challenges for an MVP trophy, regardless of whether or not he becomes a LeBron James-level 3 point shooter. Frankly, if he continues to perform with this much gusto, bravado, and gumption, I wouldn’t mind if 3 pointers were a monthly treat, as opposed to a daily part of a balanced Philadelphia 76ers offense.