Philadelphia Commits to Ben Simmons with 5-Year, Max Extension
Earlier this week, the Philadelphia 76ers made their plans for Ben Simmons clear. Signing the point guard to a 5 year, $170 million extension, the team is looking to keep him in the fold for the foreseeable future, along with Joel Embiid. Despite the promise he has shown, Simmons is still only going into his third season. Some critics believe the max extension was either premature or entirely inappropriate. However, they are wrong.
A Rare Gem
Simmons is a rare, near complete young player. His game is reminiscent of both LeBron James and Magic Johnson. He is an athletic, 6’10 point guard who can pass, score, and rebound at a consistent rate. With only two years in the game, his career stats are 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.9 rebounds per game. On top of his offensive prowess, he is a skilled defender. His height advantage allows him to challenge smaller guards, while also being able to guard a number of positions on the floor. Not to mention, his strong ability to exploit passing lanes makes him a threat, at 1.6 steals per game. All that being said, Simmons is the kind of player that can fulfill a number of roles for a team. It’s not an exaggeration to say that at his age, he is already one of the best players in this league. Even still, he has one glaring flaw that is a huge cause for concern.
No shot in a shooter’s league
Ben Simmons doesn’t shoot the ball. It would be unfair to say he lacks the ability, because he doesn’t put up enough attempts to objectively say that. What is obvious, though, is that for some strange reason he refuses to take a shot. Now, of course, he towers over every other point guard, which he takes advantage of when he gets into the paint. Clearly he can punish smaller players on the block and around the rim. Yet, for that same reason, he could easily turn into a shooting threat. It would be hard to imagine smaller guards, like Stephen Curry and Kyle Lowry, seriously challenging Simmons’ shot if he had one. It stands to reason that he could develop into a real threat. However, in the last two seasons at least, he simply hasn’t.
The cold fact is that the game has changed. Centers who have no business looking at the three point line are taking shots. Volume shooters are tossing up attempt after attempt. This is officially a shooter’s league and it has been for a few seasons. Non-shooters are becoming more and more outdated. Simmons is too young and too talented to allow himself to fall into this category. Clearly the 76ers are banking on him for the future. That means that if he wants to really lead this team, he needs to start looking for that shot. Even without a shot, though, the 76ers still made the right move.
Most forget, but when LeBron James entered the league, he couldn’t shoot the ball relatively well. Now, as one of the best players in the league, James can live comfortably from beyond the arch. Another, possibly better example, is Kawhi Leonard. When he entered the league, he was purely an athletic finisher and defensive stopper. However, he started to look for his shot. Once he found it, he became one of the most lethal shooters in the league. The 76ers are expecting a similar future for Simmons.
At only 22, Simmons has a long career ahead of him. He isn’t so set in his ways that altering his game would be impossible. On the contrary, now is the time for him to start looking for that shot. If Giannis Antetokounmpo can start taking shots, then Simmons has no excuse. He can follow the example of players who came before him and turn himself into a threat from that part of the floor. However, even without a shot, he is one of the best scorers, passers, rebounders, and defenders at his position. Philadelphia knows you can’t let a player like that go. Thus, they put their money where their mouth is, which was the right decision.
On the 76ers end, they made it clear: Simmons is part of the team’s future. On his end, he needs to capitalize on that trust. He already does so many things well, which is why he deserves the max extension. The only thing that is going to take him over the top is to develop his shot. However, a third year player who can do everything Simmons can is worth the money. Thus, the 76ers made the right decision on this one. Now the only thing left to see is how far he will lead this team.
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