If your a basketball fan, and if you haven’t been living under a rock for the last month or so, you would have heard the name Ben Simmons thrown around a lot lately. He has been absolutely killing it in his first proper season in the NBA. The hype was always going to be huge for a number one draft pick who carried the weight of a whole franchise on his shoulders. Fortunately, he has gone above and beyond expectations so far. What makes this story even better? He’s one of our own.
That’s right, the hottest young talent in the NBA right now is an Aussie. So where did it all begin for Ben Simmons?
Born in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, Simmons has basketball in his blood. His father Dave was a professional player for the Melbourne Tigers in the NBL and introduced him to the game at a young age. Simmons spent his early years in Newcastle, just north of Sydney where he played both basketball and rugby league. He and his family returned to Melbourne when he was 10 and he began playing Aussie Rules Football. He was a natural talent at both, winning individual honours throughout the two sports. At age 14, Simmons had to make the tough decision on choosing between basketball or AFL. Eventually and thankfully, he went with basketball and as they say, the rest is history.
After making the big move to the U.S when he was 15 and dominating the high-school scene, Simmons won a number of accolades including the Player of the Year and ended his high-school career as the No. 1 ranked young talent in the country.
With colleges lining up to sign the hottest prospect in basketball, Simmons elected to play for Louisiana State University. His most prominent display for the Tigers came on December 2nd 2015. He put up 43 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists against North Florida – the most points by a player for LSU since Shaquille O’Neal in 1991. After LSU missed out on the NCAA Tournament, Simmons declared himself for the 2016 NBA Draft.
On June 23rd 2016, Ben Simmons was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers as the Number One NBA draft pick. In a cruel twist of fate – which now seems a blessing in disguise, Simmons broke a bone in his foot before the start of the regular season and was ruled out of the entire 2016-17 season.
This only created more hype as the boy from Fiztroy was prepped and ready come the start of the 2017-18 season. Word had gone around that Simmons had grown two more inches since being drafted leaving him to stand at 6’10” and equipped with a high skill set in passing and dribbling- a scary combination for opposition defenders. He started the season hot and recorded two double-double’s in his first three games before his maiden NBA triple-double. Simmons put up an impressive stat line of 21pt-12reb-10ast in his side’s win over Detroit. He was placed in elite company becoming only the third ever rookie to have a triple-double in one of his first four games.
The big man can move – scary 😲
Simmons has absolutely blown his rookie counterparts out of the water this year and is an odds on favourite to take out the prestigious Rookie of The Year award. There has even been suggestions that we could see him in an All-Star jersey this year and would join the likes of Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan to do so in their first season. He shows no signs of slowing down and has been flirting with triple-doubles week after week. Whether he takes advantage of his size against smaller guards or uses his dynamic pace to breeze past big men, Ben Simmons is showing all the makings of the complete package. He leads the rookie class of 17/18 in the three major stat lines with 18.7ppg, 9.2rpg and 7.6apg.
What’s most impressive though, is the way he has carried himself throughout this year. Simmons hasn’t bought into the hype nor has he let the big stage phase him. With the help of another star recruit Joel Embiid, Simmons has helped transformed the 76ers from a team who’s record had been 38-126 in the previous two seasons to a 10-7 positive start to the year. While it’s early days, Philly have already won the same amount of games as they did in the whole of the 2015/16 season. Things are looking up and they’re style of play has impressed everyone. They are moving the ball as fast as any other team in the league, averaging 26 assists per game (2nd in the NBA) and a league-high 49 rebounds per game. After a few tough years things are finally starting to look better for 76ers fans and it is players like Ben Simmons who will continue to keep supporters coming through the gates.
It’s scary to think that this guy is only 21 years old. With only more time and experience ahead of him, he is just going to get better and better.
Get use to hearing the name; Ben Simmons, and don’t forget it.