Struggles Ben Simmons Will Face His Rookie Year
Ben Simmons, the number one overall draft pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in this past draft, has already been compared to the likes of LeBron James. Most likely for the way he plays the game, always looking for the open man, and trying to create easy baskets for his teammates. With so much hype already around his name, his first season in the NBA is very important; not only for his legacy, but for the 76ers franchise.
But, coming into the NBA after only one year in college can sometimes be difficult, and Simmons is sure to face his fair share of problems in his first season.
First, let’s start with the franchise he was drafted by. When you get drafted by an NBA team your dream comes true, but the downside of being drafted so high like Simmons is that you are guaranteed to be picked by a team that struggled last year, and more than likely has been struggling for quite some time. This can be frustrating for a young player. All you want to do when you come into your first season is have an immediate impact and change the franchise all the way around. But, the 76ers haven’t had a winning season since the 2011-2012 season, haven’t won more than twenty games in the past three seasons, and they haven’t made the playoffs since that 2011-2012 season. There are bound to be many bumps in the road for the 76ers yet again this season and that ultimately means that Simmons will be amongst the struggles as well. The key for Simmons is to stay true to his game and trust the process. Because as bad as the 76ers have been in past seasons, they are moving in the right direction. They are young, drafted a player with great potential first overall, and have fans that are dying for some excitement.
Another problem that Simmons is likely to face is the fact that his jump shot isn’t quite NBA ready. In college at LSU he could get away with attacking the rim every play. In the NBA the players are much bigger and much more athletic. The game tends to speed up and sometimes not having a great jump shot can force young players to turn the ball over more. Teams in the NBA will play off of him and force him to shoot instead of giving him the easy pass to a teammate. To be honest, it really wouldn’t matter if they left his teammates open though; the 76ers don’t have much shooting coming back to the roster. Their best three-point shooter is Jerryd Bayless, who is playing his first year on the team after coming over from the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged forty-four percent from behind the arc last season, so there is something to be excited about, but in order to give Simmons more space on the floor the 76ers will need to bring their three-point shooting up a lot.
The last problem I could see Simmons having is the pressure. Whenever you are picked as a number one overall pick in any sport, there is a lot of pressure to deal well. Simmons has been playing under pressure ever since he was in high school and his one year in college the pressure only got heavier, but the pressure to do well in the NBA is an entirely different monster. The first pressure he will face is from the 76ers organization. Not only are the people in the front office hopeful that the guy they took a chance on pays off, but the fans are so hungry for some hope in Philly. The next pressure is the fact that his jersey has become one of the top jerseys being sold in the entire league. It probably doesn’t faze Simmons that much, but fans will take notice of that and if your jersey is being sold close to the amount of times that LeBron James’, Stephen Curry’s, and Kevin Durant’s jerseys are, then that means added pressure to be great.
The last pressure that he is under in his first season is the early comparisons. Some have tagged him as the next LeBron or Magic Johnson, even calling him the next great. A lot of pressure comes with being compared to great players, but Simmons needs to focus on creating his own legacy if he wants to do well.
There is no doubt that Ben Simmons is a great player, and there is also no question that he will face a lot of challenges in this upcoming season, but he has the potential to be a great player in this league. Look out for number twenty-five of the Philadelphia 76ers to be one of the best stories in the NBA this year.