(sung to the tune of P. Diddy & the Bad Boy Family’s “Bad Boy for Life”) He ain’t, goin nowhere, he ain’t, goin nowhere, we can’t be stopped now, cause it’s Benny for life
If you’re reading this, it means Ben Simmons officially signed the five-year $170 million maximum contract extension offered by the Philadelphia 76ers.
How does that sentence make you feel?
Philadelphia is often a polarizing city and fan base, and Ben Simmons is as polarizing a player as we’ve seen in quite some time. Loved by many, trashed by the rest, with little to no in-between. That seems to be consistent both locally and nationally. Many want to run him out of town for his lack of a jump shot, and then others seemed to fear he was never signing this extension and had his bags packed and waiting to ship off to Los Angeles. Some, sadly, have even suggested such terrible trade ideas as moving him for aging overpaid “stars” such as Chris Paul, and more recently, Russell Westbrook.
If you’re not happy about this extension, then simply put: you’re wrong.
I know, I know: Who am I to tell you what to think? I’m just a “goofy idiot who has a dumb podcast” and writes for this website.
As a favor to you, I won’t bother with what my eyes tell me as someone who’s watched every minute of all 182 NBA games Ben Simmons has played (and started) in. That includes 22 playoff games over two seasons, by the way. His only two seasons. It also includes winning 103 regular season games and two playoff series in his only two seasons. Add to that an All-Rookie nod, a Rookie of the Year trophy, and an All-Star game appearance. A guy who’s missed 3 games in two years, played 34 min a game, while averaging 16/8/8 and continues to be an elite, yet still underrated, defender across basically all positions. I won’t bore you with that information.
There’s also no reason to show you any of the impressive highlight reels Simmons has put together in such a short time already in the league. They don’t include nights of going 0 for his first 15 in a playoff game (James Harden) last season, or him shooting almost six three point attempts per game while not even hitting the 30% mark (Russell Westbrook) or the rec league 25% from three that MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo shot last year. But just in case you’re curious:
Oh, that was only one five game series? In the playoffs? I thought Ben never showed up in the playoffs? Interesting…
The NBA has never been more about “star power.” Just look at the shift in power over the past month, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George heading to the Clippers, confirming Anthony Davis joining Lebron James on the Lakers, and the future pairing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, amongst others. As a consensus first overall pick, it’s fair to want Ben Simmons to be a star. I’m here to tell you he is. Let’s compare him to some other stars then, shall we?
Ben Simmons is technically entering his fourth NBA season, having sat out the first one due to a freak foot injury, as is the Sixers’ rookie initiation process. To make sure it’s fair to the others, I’ve grabbed their stats from a similar age and tenure.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo – 4th season, 22 years old, 2016-17
- LeBron James – 4th season, 22 years old, 2006-07
- Paul George – 4th season, 23 years old, 2013-14
- Kawhi Leonard – 4th season, 23 years old, 2014-15
- Draymond Green – 3rd season, 24 years old, 2014-15
- Ben Simmons – 3rd season, 22 years old, 2018-19
All of these players have many similarities with Ben Simmons: they are often the initiator in their offense. They have an elite combination of size, speed, strength, and overall athleticism. Lastly, they are all considered elite defenders.
Ben Simmons ranks:
- FG% 1st
- eFG% 1st
- FTA 4th
- FT% 6th (one of three players shooting <70%)
- ORB 1st
- DRB 3rd
- TRB 2nd
- AST 1st
- STL 6th
- BLK 4th
- TOV 1st
- PTS 4th
- PER (player efficiency rating) 5th
- TS% (true shooting percentage) 2nd
- FTr (free throw rate) 2nd
- AST% (assist percentage) 1st
- OWS (offensive win shares) 3rd
- DWS (defensive win shares) 6th
Made sure to leave in plenty of stats that still put Ben at the bottom of this group. Amongst this list, even the worst at anything here is still often well above the NBA average. The chart is included so you can really see how the numbers stack up. The point of this is to realize that all of the other players mentioned were still developing and improving at the same point in their careers, and often had already had more playing experience and/or were older than Simmons. We have often left Ben’s youth and lack of experience out of the discussion of demanding he be so perfect in the immediate moment.
All of these other players are currently considered to be in their prime (sans LeBron) yet are often the standard Simmons is held to, while again, having only played in two full seasons and being 22 years old. Still, Simmons holds up well against these same players as they currently stand as well. Let’s compare the same group of players all from last season.
Ben Simmons ranks:
- FG% 2nd
- eFG% 2nd
- FT% 6th (one of three shooting <70%)
- ORB 1st
- DRB 4th
- TRB 2nd
- AST 2nd
- STL 3rd
- BLK 3rd
- TOV 3rd
- PTS 5th
- PER 5th
- TS% 5th
- FTr 2nd
- AST% 2nd
- OWS 5th
- DWS 3rd
Again, this is meant to be a completely open and honest discussion on Simmons. It is not meant to convince you that a consistent jump shot is coming, nor is it denying the strain it puts on our half-court offense when teams consider Ben a non-factor in that regard. However, it seems that everything else he does, which is plenty, is done at an absolutely elite level. It is not a stretch whatsoever that Simmons be put in conversations with the likes of Giannis, LeBron, PG, Kawhi, and Draymond. He needs to be recognized as such and respected accordingly.
When you consider that such point guards as John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul will all be making around or over $40 million dollars for at least the next three seasons, this Simmons extension was an absolute must and will leave the Sixers as consistent contenders throughout its duration.