Recognition Reaffirms Promising Start to Simmons' Anticipated Debut Season

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

CAMDEN, NJ - As obvious as Ben Simmons’ transformative potential was during the opening month and a half of the 2017-2018 season, so too was his worthiness of the recognition he received Friday afternoon.

For games played in October and November, the 21-year old point man was named Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, on the heels of starting his stint with the 76ers by posting 18.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 2.3 steals in 35.6 minutes per game, all figures that rank first among Simmons’ first-year peers.

What’s more is that in respect to points, rebounds, and assists, these averages haven’t been generated by a rookie since Oscar Robertson’s historic 1960-1961 campaign. Throw in steals, and Simmons is producing at a diversified rate the likes of which the NBA has never seen.

Despite enjoying a breakout, compelling start to his anticipated debut season, the straight-shooting Simmons has taken his success in stride.

“It’s fun,” Simmons told reporters recently, when asked about how his year has gone. “I’m enjoying it. I wouldn’t want to do anything else, honestly.”

Not only has Simmons been the standout from this year’s crop of rookies, his output has so far put him in the same class as some of the NBA’s premier performers. The Australian’s 12 double-doubles rank as eighth-most among all players, while his two triple-doubles are tied for second in the league.

As of Friday, Simmons’ assists and steals averages were good for sixth and second overall, respectively, while his 14.3 points in the paint per game average was fourth-highest, behind All-Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis.

No player this season has passed the ball more than Simmons, who does so 76.2 times per game. His defensive real-plus minus of 2.38 is 13th in the league, his 1.2 defensive win shares value 10th.

Listen to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins Discuss Ben Simmons' Entry Into NBA

At the outset of his career, Simmons knows he’s been keeping exclusive company among elite players present and past. He’s set his goals accordingly.

“That makes me think why can’t I be one of the best players,” said Simmons, whose seven 20-point games are tied for a rookie-high. “That’s just going to motivate me even more.”

With Simmons’ Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month win, a 76er has now claimed the prize six of the past seven times it’s been handed out. Joel Embiid earned the honor from November through January of last season, with Dario Saric taking the baton in February and March.