Is Ben Simmons Good? Great?

Just how good is Ben Simmons? (Wikimedia Commons)

Ben Simmons is one of the toughest players to analyze in the NBA.

Fans of the 6-foot-10-inch point guard will tell you how his versatility makes him an elite talent in the NBA, while others will argue that his inability to be an elite scorer and a top-notch 3-point shooter makes him a good – not great – player.

Maybe the reason that Simmons is so hard to nail down is that he is so different in every way from the “traditional” point guard. 

Simmons doesn’t shoot 3-pointers. Since he has entered the league, Simmons has consistently ignored this incredibly important shot. 

The former LSU guard has made only three 3-point shots since he entered the NBA. 

This significantly decreases his potential as a scorer. Opposing defenders understand that Simmons isn’t a threat from long range, and they sag off him, daring him to shoot.

Additionally, Simmons isn’t a high-volume scorer. 

Compared to all point guards, Simmons is 30th in field goals attempted per game with 10.4. He’s 19th in field goals made per game.

Simmons averages 15.7 points per game, which is 17th among point guards. 

Simply put, Simmons isn’t an elite scorer. He scores enough to be formidable and a threat, but not enough to garnish the respect of opposing defenders like Steph Curry or Damian Lillard do. 

Simmons gets downhill and punishes the rim (Wikimedia Commons)

However, scoring 30 or more points every night is not why the 76ers drafted Simmons. They drafted him to do a little bit of everything, which he does.

When Simmons does shoot, he takes shots he can convert, and he scores with high efficiency.

Simmons ranks first among all point guards with a field goal percentage of 57.2%. This is 4.7% higher than the next best shooter (Irving with 52.5%).

Even though he hasn’t scored a lot this season, Simmons has shown flashes of offensive firepower. Over his last four games, Simmons is averaging 27.8 points per game.

Simmons is fifth among point guards in free throws attempted and seventh in free throws made.

He gets to the line because of his ability to put his head down and attack the rim.

While Simmons isn’t a dynamic scorer, he does enough in other categories to be a dynamic threat on the floor.

The 76ers are undoubtedly a better team with Ben Simmons. Regardless of his ability to shoot the long ball, Simmons makes up for it by being a multi-talented guard capable of accumulating stats with ease. 

What’s more important than his scoring ability is Simmons’ ability to rack up stats in every other major category.

Among all point guards per game, Simmons ranks third in rebounds (8.3), tied for fifth in assists (7.9), tied for second in steals (1.7) and first in blocks with 0.8.

According to ESPN, Simmons ranks sixth in player efficiency rating with a score of 20.53. His volume in other major categories other than scoring makes Simmons an important asset for the 76ers. 

Because Simmons is versatile in different categories, he racks up double-doubles (11) and triple-doubles (three) with ease.

Also, Simmons is consistently one of the best defenders in the NBA, and he can cover all five positions on the floor. His height and wingspan give him an advantage at deterring passes and racking up steals and blocks.

He is one of the most well-rounded and unique players the NBA has ever seen, and you can’t cast him aside simply because he doesn’t score at a high enough rate.

Simmons knows that his major downside is his shooting ability. However, instead of working on his scoring ability, Simmons works on his ability to accumulate statistics across plenty of different areas.

Intriguingly, Simmons is finding success by not scoring at a high rate, especially considering the NBA is becoming so 3-point shooting dependent. Simmons is a guard that can’t score efficiently anywhere beyond the foul line, yet is a viable candidate for late-season awards.

Simmons’ unique skillset carries the 76ers’ offense (Wikimedia Commons)

However, these accolades can’t cover up the fact that Simmons still hasn’t evolved as a player since he got drafted. As the NBA changes, if Simmons doesn’t develop an outside shot, he will get passed in skill by younger guards.

Also, Simmons needs to grow so that his teammates can benefit. By clogging the middle, Simmons eliminates opportunities for others to score. 

If Joel Embiid can learn to become a 3-point shooter, why can’t Simmons? 

However, while Simmons doesn’t knock down shots from behind the arc, he does help generate these shots for others around him.

According to an article from ClutchPoints on Feb. 9, the 76ers shoot 29% from 3-point range without Simmons, which is the worst in the NBA. With Simmons on the floor, the 76ers’ 3-point shooting percentage jumps to 40.7%, which is second-best in the NBA.

Simmons has stayed loyal to Philadelphia even when a portion of the 76ers’ fanbase wanted him gone and amidst trade possibilities for James Harden. 

Simmons does enough each game both offensively and defensively to warrant attention and accolades. With his ability to cover almost any player on the floor and facilitate the ball, Simmons deserves more respect than he is given.

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