A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Opinion: Ben Simmons For ROTY

Ben Simmons, the 21 year-old Australian who was selected as the number one pick by the Sixers in 2016, suffered a serious foot injury during the summer of 2016 and was immediately shut down for the year to assure that the broken bone healed correctly. Simmons has been exceptional this year, averaging 15.8 points-per-game, eight boards, and eight assists, while also being a dominant player on the defensive end. His passing skills alone, and the ability to create for others, is the primary reason why he should be considered a top player in the Association. Not many players his age can control the pace of a game like Simmons can.

Simmons already is one of the league’s most gifted passers. Before being drafted, Simmons was known for his wide array of passes that he always keeps in his pocket. He can kill you with his cross-court passes in transition or with his pinpoint outlet passes from within the paint.

Simmons unique splash of speed and strength creates problems for even the best of NBA defenses. When defenses pressure him on the perimeter, his first step is so quick that it allows him to go right past them. When they back off, he’s able to bounce off and overpower them, flying to the rim. Simmons can get to the basket just as productively as anyone in the league. Simmons has an astounding ability to squeeze through tight spaces and bounce off players, while still controlling his dribble.

His speed helps big-time while in transition and in playmaking. Most players can’t keep up with him on the fast break, and his passing remains impressively precisive when he’s flying down the court. He’s also smart with how he uses his dribble. He can transition from sprinting at full-speed to passing with no hesitation. That’s why the Sixers are so dangerous when Simmons is the starting point guard. He is easily the best point guard on the team, and the Sixers use him to their advantage.

Ben Simmons is a 6’10” small forward playing point guard, who just willed his team to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. There are few 6’10” players that can run around the court as well as Simmons can. His ball handling is better than several veterans at his size. Simmons has also had an incredible defensive year, being very versatile while switching between quicker ball-handlers and stronger big men.

He is already one of the best defensive guards in the league. Simmons deserves being in contention for both the Rookie of the Year race and the All-NBA team. He’s a top-25 player and will only get better from here.