We’ve seen unicorns all over the NBA, but Ben Simmons entered the league as a completely new species.
He’s a 6’9 playmaker with incredible vision, but won’t take jumpers, can’t hit free throws consistently, and might be shooting with the wrong hand. He’s a high school prodigy and former No. 1 pick whose college team missed the NCAA tournament amid attitude concerns, and he sat out his entire rookie year due to injury.
That led to plenty of uncertainty. What kind of NBA player would Simmons be? Would he be effective in an NBA that’s tilted towards scoring and shooting? Would he be a point guard or a playmaking big man? How would he mesh with Joel Embiid?
Turns out, quite well. Through two months, it’s already clear that Simmons is a freakin genius that bends NBA games to his will. He uses his speed, vision, and power to see openings before they even exist, whether they are to score or deliver a pass. He rapidly processes information, to the point that he can confidently take whatever space is given to him and attack the hoop knowing his instincts will take over.
He will surely win Rookie of the Year, and he’ll deserve it. Anyone who averages 17 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists as a 21-year-old rookie has the award in the bag. But it’s not the numbers that illustrate Simmons’ artistry, it’s the way he does it.
In this video, we explain what makes him the NBA’s ultimate mad scientist. The NBA court is his lab, and he’s improvising and pushing the NBA to new places every single night. It’s been a joy to watch and a reminder that idiosyncratic players like Simmons are often the ones who disrupt the game’s norms the most.
Congratulations to long-suffering 76ers fans for getting the opportunity to enjoy a player like Simmons.