Sixers' Dwight Howard Continues to see LeBron James in Ben Simmons

Dwight Howard does it again with the LeBron James comparisons for Ben Simmons.
Publish date:

Ever since he geared up to enter the 2016 NBA Draft after a lone season at LSU, Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons has drawn comparisons to Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James.

While Simmons doesn't exactly do everything that LeBron can, the potential is there. And a former teammate of his, Dwight Howard, mentioned back in November that he can see exactly why Simmons has garnered those comparisons.

“Ben Simmons is a young LeBron who’s developing an overall game," Howard said a few months ago. "I love the way he plays; I love how unselfish he is, and how mean he can be to other teams, and that’s important. When you have your point guard coming down, dunking on people, flexing, getting big rebounds, talking trash, doing all those things, it drives you to want to be better.”

Howard made that statement before ever taking the court with Simmons as teammates. Now that we're in late February, 33 games into the regular season, nothing about Howard's early opinion on Simmons has changed.

"I'm just glad that he is really realizing how great he is," Howard said after Thursday's game against the Mavericks. "I just want to continue to pour into his life and continue to speak greatness on him. He's an amazing player. I love watching him play defense. His energy and effort have been top of the line. I just want him to continue to do that.

Although Simmons got off to a slow start this year, the veteran guard recently tuned out the critics and turned up the intensity. Now, in addition to being one of the league's top defenders, Simmons is aggressively racking up points on offense as he's averaged 20 points-per-game over the last ten matchups. 

"Like I said at the beginning of the season. . . LeBron James," Howard added. "(Ben) has that. He has everything -- he has it. I'm really proud to see his growth from the beginning of the season until now. He's an All-Star, and he's going to continue to play great and lead this team."

When fans compare Simmons and LeBron, the opinion doesn't necessarily hold a lot of weight. When Dwight Howard, a future Hall of Famer and former teammate of LeBron James, says it, we're talking about a different story. 

Sure, Simmons has a long way to go before he comes close to catching one of the greatest to ever play the game, but he has the tools to make it work. Now, the 24-year-old guard needs to continue growing his game and improving. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_