Although Simmons (15.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 8.2 APG) is only 22 years old, he has already provided convincing answers to most of the pre-draft questions that surfaced in 2016.
He’s not a point guard?
Simmons was the lead ball-handler for one of the league’s most devastating five-man lineups, claiming 2018 Rookie of the Year honors and joining John Wall as the only rookies to average 15+ PPG and 8+ APG during the last 20 years.
He has a questionable motor?
Simmons came out of the gate as a clear plus defender—ranking 35th league-wide in Real Plus-Minus—while also carrying Philly to eight straight wins without Joel Embiid to close the season.
He won’t be able to bully his way to the hoop against NBA-caliber defenders like he did in college and high school?
Simmons’s shot distribution chart looks like it belongs to an elite center, as he hit 74.4% of his shots in the basket area and took nearly half of his attempts from within three feet.
There was, of course, one knock that did stick: his total lack of shooting. Despite playing more than 2,700 minutes, Simmons attempted just 11 three-pointers and didn’t make any.
Among established star-level perimeter players, there really isn’t a modern comparison for that degree of perimeter futility, although John Wall, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and DeMar DeRozan all struggled mightily early in their careers.
Philly’s second-round series loss to Boston proved that Simmons can’t always work around his Achilles heel. Without a jumper to extend the defense, the Australian point forward was held in check, stymied by the Celtics’ interior bodies and forced into more turnovers than the Sixers could stomach. Yet focusing only on his uneven play against Boston would be misrepresentative of a spectacular rookie season: Simmons is one of the NBA’s brightest young lights, and he appears poised to make his All-Star Game debut in 2019: