Western Courier

Simmons and Embiid have arrived

Devon Greene, Assistant Sports Editor

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Everyone loves to predict which players coming out of college will make it big in the NBA and Ben Simmons was one of those players that everyone said was a sure thing. Well, I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted what Simmons is doing in his rookie season.

Simmons was drafted in 2016 after a rocky season at Louisiana State University where he said he didn’t learn anything from his experience in college. The man from the land down under then served his due in injury purgatory where all Philadelphia 76ers rookies disappear to never to be seen again until the next season.

Simmons started off this season burning down everything in sight and destroying everyone he could get his hands on. He’s currently averaging a stat-line that only eight players have ever managed to do, 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists per game. He’s among hall of fame talent and he’s showing no sign of slowing down. If Simmons can continue to play at this pace, he is a lock for Rookie of the Year and will be the first rookie to make the All-Star Game since Blake Griffin in 2011.

Simmons is another one of those freakish players that slap the laws of human-kind and the rules of the NBA in the face. Simmons is a 6-foot-10 point guard that is as fast as some of the 6-foot-4 and smaller players. It’s really one of the most unfair things I’ve seen in recent memory.

Simmons has the court vision of a hawk with binoculars on or a superhero with super-sight. He makes passes that we’ve only seen from players like LeBron James or Magic Johnson. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the 76ers this season because I am trusting the process like the savior of the NBA, Joel Embiid has continually told me to do and sometimes I cannot believe the passes that Simmons makes.

The 76ers played the Mavericks on Oct. 28 and Simmons caught the ball at the free throw line and drove because his jumper is as nonexistent as a good Chainsmokers song. He was then doubled by Dirk Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews and did a 180-degree turn and threw a perfect no look pass to Joel Embiid who drained a three. In the moment, I had to take out my eyeballs and wash them in some bleach to make sure they were seeing things straight. After I completed that process, I have come to the conclusion that there is no possible way that Simmons does not have 4 sets of eyes on each side of his head so he can see everywhere.

Simmons is in the same territory that Milwaukee Buck superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is in. I’ve watched just about every game both of those guys have played and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen either one of them hit a jumper. I’m about 90 percent certain if we put Stevie Wonder out on the court, he could hit a jumper just about as consistently as Simmons or Antetokounmpo could do. The most insane part about that 100 percent real fact is that it doesn’t slow Simmons or Antetokounmpo down on the offensive side.

Simmons is in that category of player where he can get to the rim whenever he wants to. About 42 percent of his shots come from inside the paint and he’s scoring on those attempts around 68 percent of the time.

His athleticism is off the charts. The 76ers played the Clippers on Monday night and Simmons dunked on Clipper point guard Lou Williams in a not particularly ferocious fashion but it was one of those dunks where it just made me feel bad for Williams. Simmons suddenly turned into Deebo from Friday and punched out every last bit of pride that Williams had left in his body. He dunked on Williams again in the third quarter and all Williams could do was laugh because I don’t even think his brain was in his body anymore.

Yet, Simmons is not the only thing that 76er and basketball fans have to be excited about in Philadelphia. Big man Joel Embiid has captivated NBA fans for the past two seasons. I will say without a shadow of a doubt that Joel Embiid is the funniest player in the NBA.

In the Clippers game on Monday, Embiid was engaging in a WWE fight with Clippers center Willie Reed and Embiid was just dominating him. I mean, it was like watching an full-grown furious elephant post up a baby kitten and Reed got fed up and slammed Embiid to the ground. Reed got subbed out and as Embiid was shooting the free throws, he looked over to the Clippers bench and laughed in Reed’s face. Then after he made both of the free throws, he gave him the shush finger over his mouth and proceeded to maul one of the best low-post defenders in the NBA, DeAndre Jordan.

Embiid was also fell to the curse that plagues all 76er rookies as he fell to a foot injury that kept him sideline for his first season after he was drafted. Last season, Embiid started to show what he was made of. He was manhandling freakishly large humans like it was nothing and he was doing all of that under a minute restriction. He averaged 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game before falling to another foot injury in his rookie season. Embiid only played 36 out of 82 games in his rookie season but was still a strong contender for rookie of the year.

Embiid has continued to dominate opposing centers this season averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Also, he’s doing all of this under a minute restriction. The 76ers have placed Embiid in 21 layers of bubble wrap and everyone in Philadelphia nearly has a heart attack every time they see the big man go down. Another thing I’ve noticed with Embiid, he totally enjoys playing with our emotions. I whole-heartedly believe that he lays on the ground for an extra 2 minutes when he falls just to mess with all of us.

The 76ers have a bright future and it will be led by the best young duo in the league,  Embiid and Simmons. If both of these guys can stay healthy, we may be looking at the start of two future hall-of-famers.

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Simmons and Embiid have arrived