STAR OF THE WEEK:
This week’s star goes to point guard and first year sensation Ben Simmons. It is impossible to ignore the play of the Philadelphia 76ers rookie who appears to have weathered the NBA storm. For better or for worse the guard is must see television. Fortunately for the 76er’s faithful this week falls in the “for better” category. It is no surprise that his superior play has been the deciding factor in Philly’s current four game winning streak.
Last season’s first overall pick leads Philadelphia in games started, minutes played per contest, assists per, and steals per. Yet, playing at home against the San Antonio Spurs the pup played the role of closer for the first time all year. Philly entered the fourth quarter with a slim 88 – 84 lead and the young man went to work. When the smoke cleared Simmons scored 11 of Philly’s 24 points for the quarter and the home team walked away victorious, 112 – 106.
The seven day period was kind to the future All-Star in the form of 22.0 points, 6.0 boards, and 6.3 assists all on 57 percent shooting. Defensively the young leader has upped the ante as well, notching 2.7 steals and 2.0 blocks per outing. The Sixers cross the pond for a measuring stick game against the Boston Celtics, things should continue to ascend for Young Simmons.
STAT OF THE WEEK:
Much ado about shooting
Prized first year guard/forward Ben Simmons has scored 10 or more points in 33 of 37 games, yet the jumpshot still alludes him. There was a time in the NBA when a 6’10 player was considered a power forward and expected to live in the paint. Those days and that era is no more. Now EVERY player, regardless of height or weight, is required to resemble Drazen Petrovic as soon as they step on the floor. Gone are the days of development or balanced offensive threats. Or so the social media world would have you to believe.
Some have gone to great lengths to bemoan the lack of a reliable outside shot in Simmons’ offensive repertoire, when it is not shooting but simply a “shot” that is missing. Better yet a “go-to” move/shot that the player can rely on night in and night out. When one considers the young man’s size and natural offensive abilities his outside shooting is aligned perfectly with where most players are at this juncture of their careers. The Sixers’ rookie was never considered a shooter or even a fluid offensive player, but has always managed to get buckets in a wide variety of ways. But when a player only has five games with 10 or more field goals the obvious should supersede the expectation.
The “Ben Simmons needs a jumpshot” mantra needs to give way to the “Ben Simmons needs a move” movement. Fluid 6’5 players can dribble and pull-up for easy points, but 6’10 or bigger players most develop a go-to move if they are to ever find offensive success.
BEN SIMMONS VS. EVERYBODY
This week’s top rookie performer is Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. The first year player had one of his more polished weeks to date. The point forward’s most explosive game came in a 112 – 106 home win against the San Antonio Spurs. Simmons scored 26 points, including 11 in the deciding fourth quarter to lead Philadelphia to the victory.
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.
Not Even Moral Victories
The Golden State Warriors handed the 76ers their 10th consecutive loss, and their 20th out of 21 games. Philadelphia lost 128 – 111 to the Bay Area club, who were powered by Latrell Sprewell and his 38 points. The loss to Golden State was just the beginning of a 0 – 3 week for Allen Iverson and the 76ers’ crew. A.I. shot a painful 4-for-12 while scoring just 12 points in the loss.
Two late free throws by Iverson would send the contest against the New Jersey Nets into overtime, but Nets’ guard Kendall Gill kept A.I. and the boys from getting in the win column. Gill dropped 29 points, and became another vicious crossover victim, as the Nets defeated Philly 105 – 103. The week ended with a 37 point performance from Iverson in a 111 – 107 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
At 8 – 30 Philadelphia was one of the worst teams in the league, but were must-see television because of the rebel superstar known as Allen Iverson. The rookie guard had taken the league by storm and we weren’t even halfway through the season.
TWEET OF THE WEEK: