You are about to read the first in a series of articles by new Almightyballer.com a1ddition Keenan Womack (@KParkerWomack)! Please give him a round of applause! Or just comment “clap clap clap clap clap clap.”
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I’m gonna be honest – I’m not gonna call him up, but if you’re Ben Simmons, maybe you’ll do fine not hitting the books, though he’s a very fine student I’m sure. But my point is: unless you are one in a million, you better be working hard.
- Barrack Obama
What’s up, Ballers.
The number one overall prospect coming out of college this year is Ben Simmons–you’ve heard his name a thousand times already and are probably wondering why a kid with no jump-shot is supposed to be the Second Coming of LeBron.
The fact is, Simmons is an elite scorer despite his lacking outside shooting. His ability to score in transition is unmatched at the college level. This is partially due to his ability to run the floor. He is a very fluid athlete especially at his size and knows how to run the 3-man weave very effectively, both with positioning to get any easy shot and with his excellent vision to set up teammates.
This hyperbole extends to his massive skill set inside. On offense, when in the post, Simmons averages 1.25 points per possession. Due to his being ambidextrous, he is a great finisher, able to hit from all sorts of awkward angles on either side of the basket. Most of his shots come from within eight to 10 feet, due also to his impressive ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. He has very good handles for a three-four combo, and his use of hesitation dribbles and crossovers are only made more difficult to stop by his long, athletic stride.
A buzzword associated with many draft prospects is always “instincts,” but in this case, the term fits perfectly with many aspects of Simmons’ game. On both sides of the ball, he tends to make impressive split-second decisions. On offense, he will go after his own misses, and has a great knack for timing with his second jump. This leads to many put-back scores and dunks, also considering he has a size mismatch with most players assigned to guard him as a 6-10 small forward.
- This is an example of his timing on the offensive glass.
When putting the ball on the floor, he resembles Blake Griffin in his sweep moves to the outside, often leaving defenders in the dust (example–[0:59] on the following video). He also recalls Michael Beasley with the scoring opportunities he creates for himself off the dribble for a forward. This skillset is on full display in his game versus Vanderbilt earlier this season where he had 36 points, 14 rebounds and four assists on the road against the Commodores. This game is the best indication of what he is able to do offensively at this point in his career.
- Ben Simmons highlights vs. Vanderbilt
His stats on the season (per game) are 19.4 points / 12.3 rebounds / 5 assists / 1.9 steals / 1 block on .567 percent shooting from the floor (including a .333 percent average from beyond the arc and a 30.7 PER).
One of, if not his greatest asset is his ability to pass the ball, playing a point-forward type of position where he is essentially the court general. He’s great from passing out of the post and as has already been mentioned an incredible passer in transition ball. Simmons’ height is also a benefit here, as he’s much like a quarterback tall enough to look over the defensive line to see good passing lanes. As he plays much from the top of the arc when LSU brings down the ball in a half-court set, he has full vision because of his 6-10 frame.
His passing ability is on display much in this game, especially in the first few highlights. He drives the lane to collapse the defense before kicking the ball out wide and letting his guards hit nearly wide open threes. He can pass from down low–accurate, cross-court passes–and accomplish the same feat, even while not putting the ball on the floor.
His main flaw is obvious–his lack of an outside jump shooting game. What this does is limit his effectiveness as a distraction from the defense when he gets to the NBA level. In college, he’s double teamed almost immediately in any given defensive situation because of his dribble penetration, leaving somebody open outside. This won’t necessarily translate to the next level because his size, though elite for his position, won’t be completely unguardable in the NBA. Thus his passing will still be effective but its effectiveness will suffer until he becomes at least a credible threat from outside of 10-15 feet.
Despite this, LSU’s Ben Simmons is still your number one overall pick. There are very few things not to like about this kid–he also has a stellar off-the-court reputation which is undervalued often in NBA locker rooms. Despite his great talent, he is humble, almost humble to fault where he doesn’t perform as aggressively on offense as he often should. But his offensive game will continue to develop. He has as high a ceiling as any prospect in the last five years; let’s see if it can come to fruition.