LSU freshman Ben Simmons has dominated the first seven games of his college career, leaving the NBA drooling.
While LSU is only 4-3, Simmons has been arguably college hoops’ top player, or at least the most notable.
At 6-foot-10, just 19 years old, Simmons has the height of a big man, the athleticism of a wing player, and the ball-handling of a guard. He’s averaging 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists per game while shooting 54% from the field.
On Wednesday night, Simmons flashed more of his potential, scoring 43 points on 15-20 shooting, with 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 3 blocks, leading LSU to a 119-108 win over North Florida. These are video game numbers, the type of stats LSU hasn’t seen since Shaquille O’Neal played there over 20 years ago.
Except Simmons’ game, for all of its versatility, is lacking something major — shooting.
Simmons’ jump shot is by far his biggest weakness. He’s only attempted two three-pointers all season (making one), and defences simply sag off of him on the perimeter, daring him to shoot.
Perhaps the most exceptional part of Simmons’ game so far is that it doesn’t seem to matter. Here’s a look at Simmons’ shot chart from his 43-point explosion Wednesday night:
Simmons didn’t make a single shot outside of the paint, yet he managed a dominant (and efficient) scoring performance. Against North Florida, Simmons used his height to post up defenders for easy baskets.
Other times, he faced up, beat defenders with his quickness, and got into the paint:
This is the amazing thing about Simmons — he’s so versatile that he can choose how he wants to attack, despite the lack of a threatening jump shot. That he’s so good with the ball also makes these types of plays an option:
If Simmons is having trouble breaking down defences off the dribble, he has the ability to work off of the ball for shots, as he did Wednesday night. This is a huge revelation because it shows Simmons may not be entirely ball-dominant, which could be a weakness when he hits the NBA and can’t always have the ball in his hands.
It seems as though Simmons is showing something new every game, and it’s hard not to be excited about what he could turn into as he fully develops all of his skills.
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