By now, we’ve heard every narrative surrounding Ben Simmons. He can’t shoot. He won’t shoot. He refuses to shoot, but he plays elite defense. Same song and dance for the last five years. We get it. But with eighteen games remaining in the season, Simmons’ averages for this season — 14.8 points per game, 7.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists — are solid, but average. Extremely average for a player which the Sixers have paid max dollars to.
Simmons’ season has gone under the bridge due the extraordinary season that Joel Embiid has had, however we are about to enter playoff time. Everyone knows that the playoffs expose a team’s weaknesses time and time again. This is not to say that Ben Simmons is a weak link on this team. On the contrary, he is a vital piece to the puzzle. But, my question is, have we seen ALL of Ben Simmons? Is this it? Does he has another level?
The Sixers need Ben Simmons to level up when the competition counts.
Anyone who is or was a Dragon Ball Z fan back in the day, knows the sheer excitement we exuded when Goku reached Super Saiyan level in his fight against Frieza. Goku was already strong (unless you talk to Vegeta), but this was unseen! Even Frieza was shocked. The point is, everyone knew Goku was good, but when he met a stronger opponent, he rose to the challenge and became even better.
Ben Simmons has not shown his teammates or the fans that he has another level to him. is it there? In my opinion, absolutely. Why haven’t we seen it is a question that only Simmons can answer. The type of skill set that Simmons possesses does not make sense when looking at his career averages. Doc Rivers has repeatedly echoed his disinterest in whether Ben scores 40 or four on a given night, as long as he is making the right play and the Sixers win. It has resulted in a 37-17 record with a two-game lead on the Nets for the number one seed in the East. So, maybe Doc has pulled the right strings so far.
But the greats know that to capture a championship, you have to go to the next level in your game to achieve those heights. Dwyane Wade reached another level in 2006 , confronted with 2-0 hole by Dallas before spearheading a huge comeback to win the Heat’s first title. Kobe reached that next level in 2000, when Shaq fouled out of game four, a then 21 year old Mamba closed out the Pacers to take a 3-1 lead in the series before finally winning the series in six, the first of his five championships. Does Ben have that extra gear in him? We’ll find out in a month’s time.