On Monday night, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will face off against Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers inside the Wells Fargo Center. Since being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, many experts have likened Simmons’ game to that of James’. And in fact, the two athletes share the same agent in Rich Paul. There are some similarities between the two players, it’s true. However, it sounds like James “doesn’t want to hear it” just yet, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes in his recent article.
LeBron James and Ben Simmons share the same agent in Rich Paul and both have big, sturdy bodies with the court vision of a point guard (James is 6-8, 250; Simmons is 6-10, 230) so the comparisons have already begun. But James doesn’t want to hear them. “That’s for you guys (in the media),” James said after shootaround Monday. “You guys do that comparison stuff. I think Ben is his own makeup of speed, power, quickness, competitive basketball and being able have a feel for the game. You know, Ben is Ben. And I am who I am. And so on and so on. So you guys kind of do that comparison stuff.” Similarly, James was not keen on discussing the possibility of matching up with Simmons, who is questionable for the Cavs game with an elbow injury, on Monday night. “It’s not about me vs. Ben. It’s about the Cavs vs. the 76ers and we want to continue to play good ball. They’ve been playing good ball, especially at home. So it’s not about me versus him at all.”
Simmons, a 21-year-old Melbourne, Australia native, has lived up to the hype thus far. In fact, through his first 17 games of the 2017-18 season, the 6-10 point guard/forward has turned in averages of 18.5 points on 51.3 percent shooting from the field, 9.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists. Impressive numbers, to be sure — especially for a player in his first year of NBA service.
For a brief comparison, let’s take a look at James’ statistical averages through the early phases of this season. In his 19 games played, “The Kid from Akron,” as James is known, has posted averages of 28.5 points on 58.0 percent shooting from the field (42.2 percent from beyond the arc), 8.6 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per contest.
After fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on the final day of training camp in 2016, Simmons was later ruled out for the remainder of his rookie year. Now, in 2017, it looks like he’s ready to make his mark in the NBA.
Simmons will have quite a steep hill to climb if he means to surpass the greatness of LeBron James. However, as the old saying goes, “anything is possible.”