It’s no secret that Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons is one of the most versatile players to enter the league in quite some time, possibly since a 6’8, 250 pound small forward was taken with the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft.
The 6’10” Australian was frequently featured in NBA Summer League highlight reels for his passes, which were usually threaded and whipped through spaces so tight, that it would be considered a horrible offensive move if it were anyone else. But it’s what makes him such a unique talent. He was the Sixers chief playmaker through the summer and he will be relied on heavily during the regular season to get Philly’s offense moving.
Although comparisons to Lebron James have followed him throughout most of his career, it’s hard to compare the two because of the differences in their games. However, I think the thing that warranted those comparisons is Simmons’ ability to freewheel an offense and find openings for himself and others that most players in the league can’t find.
As it stands, Simmons will be the starting small forward on opening night for the Sixers, although Head Coach Brett Brown has said that he will see significant time at point guard due to his ability to create.
Though it won’t be his full-time responsibility, coach Brown will allow Simmons to get a taste of the position early on and see how he does with it. It’s expected that he’ll have a significant amount of turnovers because it’s his first season as a facilitator in the NBA, and it takes a while to get comfortable with the speed of the professional game. But there will be times that he takes a gamble and finds a teammate cutting backdoor or running in transition and will look like an absolute wizard. One benefit of having him at the point is that he’ll get his teammates to play and run harder because they know he’ll find them when they are open. With a team stacked with big men, that will be a major key.
I think a time will come this season when the Sixers get too enamored with the idea of having a Magic Johnson-style, near 7-footer driving and dishing on the smaller guards of the league. Playing the point guard position takes a lot out of you on almost a nightly basis. Playing him at point guard too frequently or for long stretches could actually hinder his growth rather than nurture it. Unless they plan on bringing in consistent shooters or a high caliber wingman, I think it’s best to take things slow with Simmons, and gradually increase his minutes at point depending on his progression.