Believe the hype – young basketball phenom Ben Simmons has already established himself as a game-winner and genuine contender for NBA’s Rookie of the Year honors.
In just his fourth game, the 21-year-old out of Melbourne, Australia recorded his first triple-double as the 76ers lead from start to finish, taking down the Pistons on the road, 97-86. In doing so, Simmons became the first Australian to record a triple-double in the NBA and just the third Sixer rookie to do so.
From the field Simmons was electric, shooting at a fraction under 73% on his way to a career-high 21 points. On the boards, he was just as effective with 12 rebounds. Proving his versatility, he also dished out 10 assists. His patience when shooting, strength on the boards, and vision in attack is far more advanced than many anticipated.
To put Simmons’ triple-double into context, LeBron James didn’t achieve his first until midway through his second season. Simmons meanwhile, has flirted with it more than once already.
This wasn’t just one hot game though, as he’s the first player to post a 10-10-5 line in his first four games since Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Royals, 1960-61) and the first player since Shaquille O’Neal (Orlando Magic, 1992-93) to open his career with four consecutive double-doubles.
Through four games, Simmons is averaging 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. He’s also chipped in with four steals.
Post game, Simmons shrugged off his own performance and instead focused on the team’s first win.
“It feels great that we won. Our team played well together and we played the right way. I’m just happy we got our first one.”
A top prospect during his time at Montverde Academy and LSU, who ultimately went #1 overall in 2016, Simmons was always expected to develop into one of the game’s brightest young stars. His hot start however is ahead of the schedule and sure to capture the eyes of opponents who’ll seek to shut his influence down.