The Philadelphia 76ers held rookie phenom Ben Simmons out of their Summer League matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday so they could rest him, which led to NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas attacking the 19-year-old.
It was the second consecutive game that Simmons failed to appear in, and head coach Brett Brown came to the defense of the 6-10 Austrailian. According to Brown, Simmons wanted to play, but the medical staff convinced him to sit out yet another game. “This is our direction, it has nothing to do with him,” said Brown to ESPN. The skipper also expressed how he’s responsible for looking after the health of the young players since the 82-game NBA season is tremendously grueling.
Regardless, Isiah was having none of it.
“You’re 19. Earn your money, get on the floor and play,” said Thomas during a broadcast on NBA TV.
He’ll certainly go out and get his money’s worth once the games count, as Simmons is set to earn $5.9 million this upcoming year according to Spotrac, and also signed an endorsement deal with Nike worth more than $20 million.
Sure, he could’ve used those games to help get even more prepared for the league, and to impress everyone, but Simmons has impressed enough, and the anticipation of watching him match up against actual NBA players is building.
He’s labeled a power forward because of body composition, but Simmons displays passing ability and court vision that rivals some of the top guards in today’s game, and I don’t believe there’s ever been someone 6-10 or taller than can pass the ball like he can. The way he distributes is eerily similar to LeBron James, and the two have been compared exhaustively.
Through five games — two in Utah, three in Vegas — Simmons has put up modest numbers: 10.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists. During his first year at LSU, Simmons, for lack of a better term, dominated with his NBA-ready body and was a feared scorer, tenacious rebounder, and dazzling passer.
He’s shown off two-thirds of those this summer and has looked incredibly passive on the offensive end. His reluctance to shoot is still there, but Simmons hasn’t been attacking like the way he did in college and put up more than ten points in just two of the five games; against the Bulls on July 10, he scored 18 on 7/13 shooting. I can’t tell you why he’s not looking to score, especially since he’s one of the biggest guys on the floor whenever he’s out there.
Aside from that, Simmons has a willingness to attack the glass, run the fastbreak and start the offense, and there have been a bevy of instances where he delivers a pinpoint pass that leaves you looking at your TV thinking, “how? He’s 6-10.”