Ben Simmons “all-defense” year is overlooked because of false assessement

Ben Simmons
Photo: Bill Streicher/USA Today

The former 1st pick of the 2016 NBA Draft is receiving a great amount of criticism for his performances the last couple of years, especially in the offensive end.

This season so far, the Australian is having a career-low average in FG% (53.3%), in rebounds (6.9 per game) and in turnover ratio (15.6%).

Moreover, his usage rating is down (18.9%) from his average 21.2% last season and the same goes for his advanced shooting numbers (EFG% is down to 53% and TS% is down to 55%), that are a bit down from the league averages so far.

Simmons is also scoring a career-low in points (13.0) and that concludes a bad offensive season (so far) for a player, who was an all-star last year.

On the other hand, the point-forward of the 76ers is making big strides on the defensive end. Namely, Simmons is first in steals (2.4), second in deflections (4.1) and first in loose ball recoveries per game (2.3). Also, his opponents are shooting a poor 40.3% clip on 9.7 attempts per game.

According to basketball-reference.com, Simmons is a Top-20 player in defensive rating (100 points per 100 possessions), Top-7 in defensive win-shares (1.4) and Top-15 in defensive box “plus-minus”, being in the mix for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the best defensive sides of the league, being the fourth best team in opponents points per game (103.7) and third in the NBA on Defensive Rating averaging 102.6 points per 100 possessions.

The Sixers are a better team, having +6.6 net rating, with Simmons being on the floor. On top of that, he is the third best passer in the league averaging a career-high 8.4 assists per game this season.

Generally, Simmons is contributing to the winning of the Philadelphia 76ers, but many fans are concentrating on his negative aspects of his game.

The truth is that when the Sixers were drafting Simmons in 2016, they were drafting a prospect that could become an All-Time NBA player alongside Joel Embiid and his impressive start in his NBA career enhanced that narrative.

In the last couple of seasons, those expectations led to a false assessment that Simmons cannot improve his game even more (especially offensively), after just his second active year in the league.

That opinion is enhanced even more in public opinion by the 5-year, $170 million maximum contract that Simmons signed last summer and the title aspirations of the 76ers the last couple of seasons.

The problem is that the young Sixers duo of Embiid (25) and Simmons (23) is not considered young anymore, with the expectations of “growing” faster, becoming rapidly a necessity in order for their team to become a legit title contender.

Stats from NBA.com, basketball-reference.com