As Star Points Up, Simmons Secured for Long-Term

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

First reaction to the news that the 76ers signed Ben Simmons to a contract extension?

Well this is fantastic.

He was the youngest player in franchise history to be named an All-Star for a reason. 

Between his vision, creativity, speed, athleticism, explosiveness, and physicality, the guy is simply that good, that much of a difference maker.

The next thought after that immediate excitement, though, went something like:

Seriously? Ben is already up for an extension?!?!

Guess that reality hadn't really sunk in until pen was put to paper Tuesday, but sure enough, Ben Simmons, in what feels like the blink of an eye, was indeed eligible for his second NBA deal. 

The 2016 no.1 pick didn't play the year he was drafted, of course, which in many ways only makes his résumé that much more impressive. 

Think about all that Simmons has done so far, in just ** two ** seasons.

Sure, you've been beaten over the head with all of the 'first-player-in-this-many-years' type stats. Still, there's something to be said for those milestones. In each instance, he's essentially been in a class almost entirely his own.

More noteworthy and pertinent, however, is that Simmons showed progress from his first to second seasons. 

The lasting impression of Simmons' second campaign? The stellar defense he displayed in the playoffs against All-Star D'Angelo Russell and eventual NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. 

The 76ers have maintained from the beginning that Simmons possesses elite defensive potential. We witnessed it first-hand in the postseason. He even earned a couple votes to this year's All-Defensive Team. 

Also noteworthy from this past season was that Simmons' offensive efficiency improved. His field goal percentage went up almost 2.0 points, from 54.5% to 56.3%. 

Just as relevant to this discussion, Simmons made strides from the foul line, an area of development the Sixers have long prioritized. In two fewer games than his first season, the Aussie went to the line an extra 87 times his second year. He subsequently increased his free throw percentage from 56.0% to 60.0% (he shot 64.2% from the line after the All-Star break).

That jump is significant.

Different wrinkles to Simmons' role in the offense surfaced in the playoffs, too.

On social media the past two months, Ben hasn't been bashful about posting some of the details of his offseason routine. He's clearly putting in work. 

"I just want to get better all around," Simmons said at the end of the season. "Just become a better, more efficient player. I want to work on everything, and continue to let my game grow."

Growth on the court is what we saw from Year 1 to Year 2. Here's to it continuing for years to come, with Simmons now locked in for the long term.


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