Let me preface the gushing with this: Ben Simmons, basketball prospect extraordinaire, is really not playing against high-level competition. Ben Simmons, basketball prospect extraordinaire, plays for a team that is currently 4-3 despite his heroics. Ben Simmons, basketball prospect extraordinaire, is allergic to jumpshots.
I'm going to say this as politely as I can. WHO CARES?
Okay, maybe we should care a little, but it's important that we keep perspective on this incredible young prospect (both positively and negatively). The 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward is an absolute joy to watch mostly because at that size, he doesn't play like a forward. He's a point guard in a power forward's body. Simmons is a huge guy, but he moves around the court with the precision and fluidity of a guy 10 inches shorter. Again, while he is playing against weak competition on most nights, he's still bullying his way to the rim against opposing frontcourt competition, and it's not like those guys are twigs. Simmons has only really "struggled" once this season, and when he did, that was just on the scoring end. Simmons ended that game with an assist-rebound double-double. Even when he isn't scoring, he's impacting the game positively.
When he's scoring, though, he's on a different level. Last night, for example, Simmons dropped an unreal 43 points to go with 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, 5 steals, and just two turnovers. How many 3-pointers? None. Do you know how hard it is in modern basketball to give an opposing team 40 without hitting a single 3-pointer? He went 15-20 from the field. He went 15-20 from the field. For a college player at this level, no matter who the opponent is, it's remarkable. Oh, and don't forget his 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, and 5 steals. They won, obviously.
Simmons really is the motor of this LSU team. They don't have much talent on the roster, but they have the best talent in college basketball. The stats back this up as well; he's averaging an insane 19.9 points, 14.9 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. I'm not even going to give you time to let that sink in because there's more. Per 40 minutes, he's averaging 22.3 points, 16.7 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. Simmons, through 7 games, has an offensive rating of an astounding 127.9 and a defensive rating of 91.3. That's stellar. Simmons' win shares per 40 minutes (estimated number of wins added per 40 minutes) number is a ridiculous .282 when the average is .100. Oh, and by the way, his PER (player efficiency rating) is 34.1. That's really, really good.
Yes, Simmons has his flaws. He's 1-2 from the 3-point line this season in 7 games. His shooting form looks pretty awful because of mechanics. Hopefully he can tweak that in his development over the next year because in the modern NBA, it's almost crippling to not have a reliable jumper, especially in offenses that prioritize pacing and spacing. For this reason, there are certain teams who, in Simmons' best interest, should not get the privilege of drafting him with the #1 overall pick. For example, not that either team would be in position to do this, but Ben Simmons being drafted by either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Brooklyn Nets would be awful. The Grizzlies already have awful perimeter shooting, and the Nets still have less made 3-pointers than Stephen Curry alone, and it's been a month. Also, Brooklyn probably isn't the best developmental team in the NBA anyway. It's a good thing that Boston has their pick, for they'd be a great destination for Simmons. They have outside shooting from both the guards and the bigs, he'd have good pick-and-roll partners, and they desperately need someone to drive into the paint relentlessly instead of floating around for jumpers like most of the roster seems to do. With the Nets being as bad as they are, and with Boston holding their unprotected pick, this seems like a realistic match.
To avoid seeming like a homer, if it weren't for Byron Scott being the weirdest coach in the NBA, I'd think that the Lakers would be a good spot for Simmons as well (admittedly weird to say). He would make a good fit with D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Optimus Prim- I mean, Julius Randle. Wherever he lands, out of the realistic choices, it cannot be Philadelphia. One, we've seen what "the process" has done for Jahlil Okafor in a rough first month (though, to keep perspective, he's 19, and it's the first month of many. We can relax), plus his basketball skills just don't fit. No one on that roster is a great shooter. On top of that, they have Dario Saric waiting to come over next season. Just doesn't seem right.
Yes, Simmons has flaws. Yes, Simmons is incredible. Yes, we're in the honeymoon phase of Simmons before we tear him apart starting with his jumper in a few months. No, I don't care. I'd take him on my team in a heartbeat and trust that he'll work on his very fixable flaws. Can't get too picky with a talent like this.