Award Confirms Simmons Stepping Up at Key Juncture
Want to see what an All-Star looks like? Simply check out Ben Simmons' mixtape from this past week.
While getting the 76ers back on track in the absence of another All-Star, the 22-year was a two-way force, averaging 21.3 points (61.3 fg%), 9.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists during a 3-1 spurt. He also posted three double-doubles, and registered at least 20 points in four consecutive outings, setting a new career-long streak.
These efforts didn't go unnoticed, as the NBA on Monday named Simmons the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played from Jan. 13 through Jan. 19. This marks the third time in Simmons' three-year career that he's received the award, and the second week in a row a 76er has received the honor (Josh Richardson claimed the prize a week ago).
In tracking Simmons' performance from the previous week, it would be hard to overlook the role he played in guiding the Sixers to three straight wins. Offensively, his first-half contributions were particularly noteworthy, as he posted 15 points, 12 points, and 16 points in the first halves of victories over the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks, respectively.
Simmons had also registered 20 points by halftime of last Monday's loss to the Indiana Pacers.
On the defensive end of the court, Simmons continued to excel. The league-leader in steals did his part to contain the backcourt combo of Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie in the Sixers' Jan. 15 triumph against the Nets, and took on a variety of assignments two nights later versus the Bulls.
He then helped the Sixers author a game-winning defensive stand Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
When asked recently about emerging as one of the linchpins to the Sixers' defense, especially with Joel Embiid on the sideline, Simmons said, "I think I'm just learning. I was best with height, speed, and length, so I try to use that to the best of my ability defensively.
"I know I can be a huge part in terms of that, and help this team get wins just by playing defense."
Simmons, of course, has keyed plenty of victories in other ways as well. Last week was simply the latest, award-winning example.