Ben Simmons Dazzles and Frustrates in Sixers First Win of Summer

Hey, a win! In Summer League against a whatever Jazz junior squad but still: our third win of any kind whatsoever since February, we'll take it. 17 points each for Christian Wood and Richaun Holmes, both of whom might finish this summer with PERs in the 30s and still miss making the varsity roster, 11 on 5-7 shooting for T.J. McConnell, and a 6-7-6 line for Summer League sensation Ben Simmons, finishing just three dimes short of a Fetty Wap. Fun night to be a 76ers fan, even if Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot broke the seal for the Sixers blowing wide-open dunks this season. 

To be honest, though, I wasn't wild about Simmons' performance in this one. Lotta dribbling, lotta clearing out, not a whole lotta actual dynamism off the dribble. Defenses are already starting to sag way off him Benny on the perimeter, and his couple pull-up jumpers in this one were lifted reluctantly and fell well short. Guy just doesn't want to shoot — really, with his ball-pounding, lack of range, and unwillingness to lift from just about anywhere on the floor, he's looking a lot like Rajon Rondo this summer. (He seems to have little interest in being on the other end of the play-making, either — I don't remember seeing him set a single pick last night.) 

Of course, even with all the downside of Rondo, you also get some of the most gorgeous passing you'll ever see on a basketball court, and there was more of that tonight — baseline-tiptoing bounce-passes to cutters, behind-the-back drop-offs on the break, blind shovel-kicks out to shooters that should be friggin' impossible. And I'll guarantee at least one person was perfectly happy with how Simmons played in the Sixers' Utah League finale: Richaun Holmes, who scored most if not all of his 17 on express deliveries from Simmons that required Holmes to do nothing more than dunk and/or get fouled. Seeing him turn Holmes into young Amar'e Stoudemire, you salivate to think of what he could do alongside Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, or — sweet charity — Joel Embiid. 

It's fine. It's summer. Simmons has a long way to go to become the player he can be, and in the meantime, the things he already can do are diamond-dazzling. Just saying, for all the talk on the NBA TV broadcast about what a "complete player" Simmons is.... nope. Not yet, not by a long shot. Just because he's tall, strong, and can pass doesn't make him LeBron James. (Some more good perimeter defense in this one, though, helping force Trey Lyles into a 4-17 shooting night, and a second-straight game with a charge drawn: good sign.) 

Anyway, T.J. McConnell is great, Richaun Holmes is great, that guy Shawn Long is asneaky-great, Christian Wood is great as long as he can keep posting up against dudes half his size (and hitting threes for some reason!!) and James Nunnally is definitely not great, though I hope he's still playing for us in the summer of 2027. See 'em all in Vegas this Saturday against Brandon "What If" Knight and the Los Angeles Lakers. Oh, you gotta love it.

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