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If you just sit and listen you might hear a train that’s getting closer and closer. As it gets louder it gains more momentum and picks up even more esteem. What are we listening for you might ask, it’s the groping, comparisons, predictions, disappointments, the overrated(s) overpraising, and “he’s not” or “he needs to be” type of nonsense. Yes, Ben Simmons this young phoneme, will hear it all in his rookie season. Why? We can blame social media or maybe even his God giving talents. Regardless, he should prepare for the onslaught that is about to be embarked on him.
For sure, it’s one player he can thank, yes LeBron James. James is the only player coming out of high school that people expected to be great (which he’s lived up to that). The problem is he’s so gifted that everybody expected him to play a certain style or have a particular swagger. More so than everything else, there were certain choices and unreasonable decisions (no pun intended) that led to the shellacking of harsh criticism. Simmons must learn that he is who he wants to be. Don’t change for the popular vote, be comfortable with your game and most if not all will adjust and adapt to him.
Simmons has the luxury of honing in the genes of a former pro basketball player, his father Dave Simmons. His father played 13 years in the Australia league. The reason it’s luxury is most sons of former pro basketball players are usually successful in the NBA. Kobe Bryant, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Brent Barry have all had their share fair of success in the league. Simmons will also be a product of that notion due to the fact that he understands the game more than the average 21 year old. All of those guys have unbelievable skills but it’s the knowledge and IQ that separates them from everybody else. Simmons made the most of those genes by being able to lead the LSU Tigers in every category except for free-throw and three point percentage.
Yet still, the LSU star gets judged mostly because of his cool and calm demeanor. He’s not the fiery guy or vocal leader that most stars seem to be. It gets confused with not having passion for the game. Passion has no emotion and it’s more in the play rather than a person’s reaction. Another target can be his jump shot. He’s not that efficient when shooting the jumper but he only played his freshman season in college. He must work on his jumper especially since his athleticism is not as glaring as his hype. Once his opponents start lay off of him and play the passing lanes, his opportunities to score will be limited. Again, he’s 19 years of age who has a lot of basketball to play and learn.
What’s crazy is he will get judged because of his strengths more so than his weaknesses. For instance, his love for passing the ball will cause an uproar because spectators will point out that he’s not aggressive enough (sounds familiar). His vision and ability to get the ball to his teammates at the right time provides a dimension that the Philadelphia 76ers desperately needs in the worst way. Simmons being able to rebound the ball can either lead to him starting a fast break from the defensive end or create second chance points from the offensive end. While his skill set might put you in the mind of a LeBron James, he is a mix between a young James and Lamar Odom. His athleticism favors Odom whereas his IQ leans toward a rookie version of James.
In an era where most are judged and ridiculed although success has followed them, Simmons should expect nothing less. He is a multi-talented player who should be able to produce in multiple facets. Usually that results in criticism that’s not warranted. Simmons can’t allow this to get the best of him and distract him from developing his game. When criticism is looming over his head while still able to be productive, he can charged that as a compliment. Kobe Bryant was mauled by insults and hate because he emulated Michael Jordan and James has been attacked verbally due to the fact that he doesn’t play like Jordan enough. This basically means if Simmons deserves any form of similar treatment, a great NBA future is eminent.