Philadelphia 76ers: 3 things to ponder during NBA’s hiatus

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

2. Ben Simmons’ uniqueness

Even the Sixers fanbase has a tendency to under-appreciate Ben Simmons, the often spectacular 6-foot-10 point guard who many claim isn’t really a point guard. Few NBA players have a more unique approach to the game, but in Simmons’ case, his unwillingness to shoot has left a sour taste in the mouthes of many.

Obviously, at some point down the line, Philadelphia would benefit from a stretchier version of Simmons. If he could bury top-of-the-key threes on a consistent basis, he’d transcend to LeBron-levels of unguardableness. Until then, however, fans must settle for… a top-20 NBA player.

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Simmons is crazy good as is, and it’s worth using this time off to recalibrate your feelings toward the two-time All-Star. He has maddening tendencies, which are only spotlighted by the Sixers’ absolute refusal to build around the skill sets of him and Joel Embiid. Nonetheless, Simmons is an immense talent deserving of equally immense respect.

At 6-foot-10, Simmons has cemented his status as an all-world perimeter defender. He can hound smaller guards, match up physically to Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James, and he’s a sturdy defender in the post when needed. He can aptly defend all five positions to a degree few, if any NBA players can replicate.

In addition to his elite defense, Simmons is a top-shelf playmaker who can effortlessly shred defenses in the open court. He has the downhill physicality to pressure the rim, the peripheral vision to find shooters on the perimeter, and the awareness to advantageously exploit mismatches. He’s not half-bad in a halfcourt setting either, especially when the Sixers are smart enough to deploy another ball-handler.

Simmons has his shortcomings, but he’s a dynamic all-around talent who more than makes up for his limited floor-spacing abilities. He is a genuine top-20 talent when both sides of the ball are taken into account — I firmly believe that. He continues to make the most of a poorly-fit roster and Brett Brown’s sometimes-flawed scheme.