The versatility and skills of Philadelphia 76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons is something the team is banking on making the No. 1 overall pick a franchise player for them. He has the size of a power forward, the athleticism of a wing, and the passing ability of a point guard. In theory, you'll be able to throw a lot of different looks and lineups around him to allow him to keep the opponent struggling to match up. It may not happen right away because Simmons will have to go through the typical rookie struggles, but that's the idea down the road.
However, his green nature to the NBA won't keep Sixers coach Brett Brown from trying the rookie at the point guard position this season. It won't be his full-time responsibility because Brown believes the NBA point guard position is the hardest to learn, but he's going to give Simmons a taste of the position early on and see how he does with it. Whether he's bringing the ball up the floor or not, Simmons will be trusted as a playmaker in his first season to see just what he can do out there. Via ThaCover2.com:
"I can't wait for the season to begin and all over the place I'm very, very excited to start our season," Brown said. "I think [Simmons] is going to have some taste of [point guard] for sure. He'll dictate that himself when he rebounds and leads the break. I've said it many times, I think the NBA point guard is the hardest position in the NBA.
"He's never played point guard, let alone NBA point guard, so what do you think he's going to be? He has a real good chance to be that. I think initially we're going to play him in different positions and that [point guard] will certainly be one of them. I believe he's an elite passer. He has the mentality to do that first--and in a 6-foot-10 frame that weighs 240, 250 pounds, at 20 years old. That's a great package to work with to play multiple positions.
"He's going to be a facilitator. You're going to see [Simmons] making plays. The ball will be in his hands and you can call what position you want. He's certainly going to have the ball in his hands a lot, and everybody will certainly be reaping the benefits of that and truly enjoy playing with him. What we will say is we will give him the ball as much as we can."
While it was just summer league, watching Simmons up close showed just how special his passing ability is. He'll have a lot of turnovers as a facilitator in his first season because it takes a little while to get comfortable with the speed of the NBA game, but he's going to take chances with passing angles and turn his teammates into guys who are always looking for the ball and working a bit harder to get open because they know they'll get the rock. That's where the hope comes for the Sixers with Simmons as a franchise piece.
He's had some comparisons to LeBron James, but Lamar Odom may be more apt. He and Odom are about the same size and they both have similar skill sets coming out of college. Odom never quite realized his potential but still had a very good career. Simmons has the opportunity to capitalize on that potential and maybe become the ideal version of what Odom was "supposed" to be. If he can do that, Simmons becomes one of the most important players in the NBA at some stage.
Even if he can't do that, he's still an incredible weapon that gives your team more options on the floor than most forwards.