LSU freshman forward Ben Simmons played in his first nationally televised game last night, hanging a dominant 21-20-7 line in a one-point loss to Marquette. If you haven’t seen Simmons play, you might look at those 20 rebounds and seven assists and assume that he’s a big, overpowering forward who’s just really good at passing out of double teams. Simmons is big—he stands at a listed 6-foot-10—but he’s not the player that line conjures in the imagination.
This is Ben Simmons:
Simmons is averaging 19 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists through the first four games of his college career, and he’s done it while playing a style of basketball that’s more than a little reminiscent of college-era Lamar Odom. If there’s one defining image of Simmons’s young career, it’s one of him grabbing a defensive rebound, gliding up the court in a few dribbles, breaking the defense down with ease, and then scoring at the rim or dishing the ball to an open shooter. He does wild shit like this multiple times a game:
Simmons, who’s from Melbourne, Australia, was the No. 1 recruit coming into this season, and he’s got a library of high school mixtapes from his time playing at Montverde Academy in Florida. He’s only exceeded expectations so far, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be the No. 1 overall pick in the next NBA draft. There were over 50 NBA scouts watching Simmons at the Barclay’s Center last night, and they saw what everyone else saw: a potential franchise savior.
That comes later, though. For now, we get to enjoy watching a pure point-forward spend a few months dropping dimes, finishing one-man fast breaks, and just generally dominating college basketball. The Ben Simmons era at LSU is only going to last one year, but it should be a fun one.