STAR OF THE WEEK:
Ben Simmons slightly edges out Dario Saric for this week’s star award. A triple-double and double-double in the midst of two subpar overall performances closed the gap between the two players. As the rookie continues to play through his mistakes and remain stoic through his strife, there is little doubt that in time those mistakes will dissipate.
Simmons’ best performance came in a 117 – 115 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The point forward put together another impressive line of 19 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and four blocks for his fourth triple-double of the year. Turnovers have plagued the rookie all season, were kept to a minimum in the two point loss. More importantly, none of the big guard’s three came in the fourth quarter.
The week was not all grasshoppers and water ice for the Sixers as the team finished 0 – 4 and Simmons appears to be at the forefront of those struggles. Expectations grew as the season progressed and with a nationally televised Christmas Day match-up on the horizon let’s hope Ben can turn it around.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Turnovers…………….and more turnovers
Turnovers have become a problem for Ben Simmons, which is not a surprise given how much the rookie handles the rock. Players that have the ball in their hands as much as Simmons tend to have high turnover rates. Especially when they are known to take chances. Where the newly minted franchise leader must be cautious is making the fourth quarter hiccup.
Currently this is not an issue, as the rookie averages a pedestrian 1.1 per fourth. The month of December has seen the guard’s highest turnover output to date, highlighted by three games with seven turnovers. Yet, the world is still clamoring about the Australian’s lack of offensive firepower. If Ben can keep his turnovers down and work to get easier buckets in transition the world will forget about him channeling his inner Dale Ellis.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY:
This week’s top rookie performer is Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers. The 27th overall pick of the NBA Draft exploded for 38 points in a 122 – 116 win against the Houston Rockets. “The Kooz” has been a pleasant scoring surprise all year, but this week the forward put on a scoring clinic. Los Angeles Lakers’ fans were privy to 27 points per, while shooting 56 percent from the field, including a blistering 55 percent from three. Not to be forgotten was Kyle’s 8.5 rebounds a night. It is inconceivable so many teams passed on this perceived diamond in the rough, especially considering how a certain top pick is struggling to just get on the floor.
Here are some of the other top rookie performers for the week:
ANSWERING THE CALL – A.I.’s ROOKIE YEAR
It has been exactly 20 seasons since Hall-of-Fame guard Allen Iverson first blessed the NBA hardwood and ignited the city of Philadelphia. From the moment the Virginia native donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform fans everywhere had a feeling Iverson was special and their basketball prayers were finally answered.
The organization struggled mightily through five consecutive losing seasons before selecting the six foot powerhouse out of Georgetown, first overall. It appears the franchise has found another transcendent player, in first year “guard” Ben Simmons. Oddly enough this year’s prized rookie guard hits the court after yet another five consecutive losing seasons.
As spectators enjoy the greatness and infancy stages of Simmons’ career, it is hard to forget the last time Philly had something (or someone) this special to root for. So while we partake in the now, it is impossible to not reminisce the before.
Some Pretty Losses
The swagger and enthusiasm found its way back to the 76ers on this road trip, and while the win total continued to remain stagnant the “Legend of A.I.” grew. First there was a stop at Key West Arena to take on the Seattle SuperSonics. Fresh off a trip to the NBA Finals, the Sonics remained one of the top teams in the league. Two fantastic dunks by the Answer and a 42 – 39 halftime lead gave the illusion that Philly would take the game. But reality managed to rear its ugly mug and the Sonics went on to win the game 96 – 82.
In Golden State the monster known as Latrell Sprewell dropped 39 points in an overtime Warriors 122 – 114 victory. The 76ers had a chance to win the contest in regulation, but Lucious Harris missed the last second field goal. The spectacular plays continued for the phenomenal Iverson. This time a way past his prime Mark Price got his pocket picked clean at half court by a focused A.I.
Mitch Richmond’s late fourth quarter bucket put the Kings up for good, as Sacramento won 107 – 106. Iverson missed a potential game-tying running layup as time expired. The 76ers would get smoked the following night 102 – 81, but the buzz for Iverson had grown and Philly was the toast of the league.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: