When Ben Simmons drew comparisons to NBA superstar LeBron James while coming out of LSU, many believed the Philadelphia 76ers were getting an all-around star player who can do it all at a high level when they selected the young guard with the first-overall pick in 2016.
At this point, a few years into Simmons' career, it's clear where his weaknesses are and where he doesn't compare to James. Defensively, Simmons is arguably the best in the league. Not only is he dominant on the perimeter, but as he's said many times, he can guard one through five and make an impact anywhere on the floor.
Offensively, Simmons is very talented but has his limitations. The most talked-about weakness regarding Simmons' game is his lack of a three-point shot. At this point, it's clear Simmons isn't worried about shooting long-range jumpers as he'd rather pass it off to his teammates to shoot those shots for the Sixers.
Simmons's lack of a three-point shot is an overrated subject at this point, but his overall scoring is still a popular topic in 2021. The three-time All-Star might not be a shooting threat on the floor, but he can still get to the basket and score when he turns his aggression on.
There are times this season when Simmons was unstoppable and went off for 30-plus points. Then, there are times when he's quiet and only collects around 10 points. This year, Simmons' scoring average is at a career low. During his first three seasons in the NBA, Simmons averaged 16 points per game. This season, he's averaging just 14.
Considering he's an All-Star, many believe Simmons should be scoring more. Therefore, he's been criticized for his lacking of scoring plenty this year. Is the fourth-year veteran concerned about what his critics say? Not anymore.
“I think, at times, I probably did [care] because I was too focused on what other people are thinking," Simmons admitted on Monday night following a Sixers win over the Thunder. "But I know what my value is to this team. I know that I’m a huge part of this team, and if you know basketball, you see it when I’m out. It is what it is. Everyone plays their role, and I’m playing my role right now. I’m trying to win.”
Simmons is viewed as a playmaker rather than a scorer. Instead of creating his own shots, Simmons sets up open shots for his supporting cast more often than not. When he's off the floor, his absence is noticeable, and the Sixers' last four-game run without Simmons showed just how much they missed him.
“I think my creativity is something you can’t teach,” he said. “Then just my size and height advantage on some players, I’m able to pass the ball to certain guys who are open. I see a lot of things that most guys don’t see on the floor, and that’s a blessing for me to find my guys and get them open.”
It's certainly difficult to argue Simmons' points. While he might always leave more to be desired about his game as he doesn't focus on becoming more of a scorer, Simmons is still extremely valuable to the 76ers -- and they are glad to have him back on the floor before their eventual playoff run.