“It was only Summer League.”

“Look who he played against!”

“He still can’t shoot.”

Such qualifiers are technically true, albeit naïve, because it only took watching Ben Simmons control the Summer League court with a smooth fluidity for a matter of minutes to see that there’s something special there – signs of superstardom.

Simmons plays the game with a poise, maturity, and wisdom well beyond his age, and he doesn’t need to be competing in the NBA Finals for his skillset to jump through the screen and command the observer’s attention. He has natural instincts for the game that can’t be taught or traditionally improved upon, in the way that his jump-shoot can. He’s the rare player that you don’t want to take your eyes off of for fear of missing something spectacular. That’s something that the Sixers haven’t had since the days of Allen Iverson.


On the defensive glass, Simmons instinctually gravitates towards the ball, and is often able to utilize his combination of size and athleticism to outmaneuver the opposition in order to gain possession. He was a dominant rebounder in high school and in college, and has already demonstrated a knack for the skill at the next level.

Though there is no way [yet] to calculate such a thing, it seems that a defensive rebound gathered by Simmons is more valuable than a typical defensive rebound because of Simmons ability to immediately turn defensive boards into transition opportunities. Simmons is lethal in the open court; it may very well be his strongest attribute at this point in his career. He has the handles of a guard and employs complete control of the ball – and the court – as his vision and instincts allow for pinpoint passing on the move. Teammates will learn to love playing with Simmons, as he has the ability to consistently manufacture open opportunities for others.

Simmons preference is to pass – he turned Las Vegas Summer League into his own assist exhibition – but he also demonstrated an ability to get to the rim and draw contact. It is not naive in the least to think that Simmons could develop into a player that averages near double-digit free throw attempts per game.

Not to draw on an already-tired comparison, but you can’t help but see shades of LeBron James when Simmons – at 6’10’’, 240 lbs. – is orchestrating a break. And while he did so inconsistently, the 19-year old did demonstrate an ability to hit pull-ups and midrange jumpers; a solid sign as shooting struggles seem to be the only real potential barrier between Simmons and true superstardom. His shooting mechanics aren’t broken, which leads one to believe that the shot will come. Even if it doesn’t, his medley of other skills will allow him to be an extremely effective, All-Star-caliber talent.

Ben Simmons’ ceiling is extremely high – and based on the multitude of ways that he can impact the game – his floor does not seem to be very low. How good he becomes will be the result of tireless effort on his end, but heading into his first season with the Sixers, Simmons has already begun to show signs of superstardom.