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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ben Simmons: A Rookie To Remember


Ben Simmons, the number one draft pick from the 2016 draft season, is on his way to having the greatest rookie season since the turn of the millennium.

After years and years of rebuilding, the Philadelphia 76ers’ “process” finally came to a halt.

With the acquisitions of Ben Simmons, Dario Šarić, Joel Embiid, and Markelle Fultz, the Philadelphia 76ers seem to have found their talented young core. Here’s the thing, though: between all of them, one seems to shine a bit brighter than the rest. Ben Simmons, the number one draft pick from the 2016 draft season, is on his way to having the greatest rookie season since the turn of the millennium.

Since 2000, there have been three rookie-of-the-year seasons that stand out above the rest: Lebron James, Blake Griffin, and Karl Anthony Towns. All three have made their way to superstardom. With Simmons’ current pace, it isn’t astounding to believe that he’ll reach their status. But exactly how does he stack up to the other two? I’ll be breaking down his comparative ability to score and acumen to assist.

In terms of scoring, Simmons is on the elite part of the spectrum but not in the highest tier. Both James and Griffin edge him out of that category, both averaging 20.9 and 22.5 respectively. Simmons does however get the nod against Towns with his average of 18.7 compared to Towns’ own 18.3. What is interesting is the way Simmons scores. Lebron got to his amount with the help of a three pointer, albeit an inconsistent one, and so did Towns. Griffin utilized the mid range, along with his rolling toward the rim for his gaudy stats.

Simmons, on the other hand, uses only one type of way to score: the paint. His drives to the basket are already elite in comparison with the best in the NBA—in fact, his scoring inside is up to 74 percent which parallels the best NBA centers. Simmons gets his 18.7 points with opponents knowing he only scores in the paint. He doesn’t have the extent of scoring the other rookies had to their disposal at the time, but he’s not far behind.

Simmons is not known as a scorer. He was always touted as a passer, and that, he does in spades. His 7.6 assists per game eclipse the aforementioned rookies by a long-shot. James, the quintessential point forward, averaged 5.9 assists in his rookie year. Only six rookie-of-the-year winners since the beginning of the NBA averaged more than Simmons. Six.

They were also all point guards while Simmons primarily plays power forward. His vision is already in the highest tier in the NBA. Most pass first players specialize in half court sets or full court sprints, but usually not both. Simmons has shown his ability to shoot the ball down the court like Wes Unseld, but also thread the needle like Chris Paul.

Simmons is not the second coming of Lebron James. He is more of the second coming of Magic Johnson. Just comparing his rookie season to some of the best rookie seasons ever gives insight to his greatness. His stats are amazing in comparison to any player’s season, not just to rookies. There is no question he will be great. The real question is just how great.