In a very good example of a made-you-think blogging, this column in the Sporting News posed a great question:
what level of production does Simmons need to reach to be billed as a success to the talking heads, social media and popular opinion of the casual to die-hard fan?
What if he’s the next Draymond Green?
First, let’s examine Green. He was a 2nd round pick out of Michigan State. There were no expectations. He shot 20% on three-pointers as a rookie and got lucky in year two when the Warriors’ starting power forward, David Lee, got injured. Green saw extended playing time in the postseason.
Then, the 50-win Warriors fired their coach (Mark Jackson) and replaced him with a rookie (Steve Kerr), who decided to start Green. His career took off, and then in his 4th year, he exploded into a Top 15 player and a defensive force. That explosion coincided with the Warriors winning an NBA record 73 games.
An argument could be made he’s the most important player on the Warriors. You could also argue Green’s the 3rd fiddle on a team with the best backcourt in the NBA (ever?) and a 2-time MVP. Green’s stats last season: 14 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.4 apg.
Now, Ben Simmons.
The 76ers have been tanking for three years to get a franchise player. In 2014 tanking netted them Joel Embiid. In 2015 tanking netted them Jahlil Okafor. But finally, in 2016, they got the generational player – they hope – who possesses the skill set that might put him in the Magic/Larry/Jordan/Kobe/LeBron class one day: Ben Simmons.
Expectations are enormous for Simmons. Talk to anyone in the NBA – he feels like a special player who can defend, score, and pass. He lacks a jump shot. Reminder: LeBron shot 29 percent on 3’s as a rookie; Magic Johnson shot 30 percent on 3’s for his career.
Simmons is expected to pull the 76ers out of the doldrums – they’ve won 37 games combined in the last three years – and not only get them to the playoffs, but to the Finals. They’ll build around him.
Are the expectations fair? Nope. But the expectations are why if Simmons ends up turning into Draymond Green, he’d have a disappointing career.