The Ben Simmons Conundrum

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Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons dominated the Washington Wizards in Game 2 of their first-round series.  (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons is an athletic 6-foot-11, 240-pound point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers who can guard all five positions. If you were to sculpt an NBA player, the league’s No. 1 pick in 2016 would be a work of art.

He is a 24-year-old three-time All-Star, about to be named to his second straight All-Defensive team. He is a finalist for this year’s Defensive Player of the Year award. He is averaging a 17-9-8 per 36 minutes for his career, joined only by Luka Doncic in that regard. Not even Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook, the lord of the triple-double, can make that claim from the opposite sideline in their first-round playoff series.

You know where this is heading by now. Criticism of Simmons boils down to this: He can’t shoot. He has made five 3-pointers in his career. Nearly 97% of his field goals this season came in the paint. He scored six points on nine shots and missed all six of his free throws in Game 1 against the Wizards. It can get ugly.

It is a legitimate criticism, an issue that has cost the Sixers in the playoffs and could again once they dispose of Washington. Yet, Simmons is still capable of being as dominant on offense as he is on defense.

 

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