ESPN’s Perkins Issues Scathing Defense After Broadcaster’s Slam on Simmons

Ben Simmons points down

Getty Sixers Ben Simmons

Former NBA big man and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins is posting up once again as a Twitter browbeater, this time setting his sights on a fellow member of the media.

Friday evening, Perkins slammed Washington Wizards play-by-play announcer Justin Kutcher who said that Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons is “overrated.”

“I’ve said it before and I know I’ll take flak for it,” Kutcher said. “I think Ben Simmons is one of, if not the most overrated player in the NBA. And he’s gotten so much love and attention that people aren’t paying attention to what Tobias Harris is actually doing on the floor.”

A War of Tweets

Kutcher made his comments Friday night in the third quarter of the Sixers 127-101 victory over the Wizards. Simmons did not play in the game (health and safety protocol) and Kutcher was theoretically trying to compliment the solid play of Sixers forward Tobias Harris. But a short time later, Perkins, no stranger to hot takes or internet battles, slammed Kutcher’s take on Simmons in a tweet response to a video posted by @MGRADS.

“Did he just say that Ben Simmons is the most overrated player in the league?” Perkins tweeted. “Shame on him. This gotta be the most disturbing thing I’ve heard all year. He do realize that Simmons is the front runner for DPOY?!”

Perkins followed up his tweet with the hashtag “#ridiculous.” But Kutcher was unconvinced and publicly stood behind his opinion shortly after the game ended.

“Yep, I said that Ben Simmons is one of the most overrated plyrs in the NBA, and I stand by it.” Kutcher tweeted. “I didn’t say he was BAD, just not as good as everyone makes him out to be. GREAT defender, potential DPOY, but I think he’s made All League/All Star Teams based on hype. And..goodnight”

Perkins then replied to Kutcher with a tweet that seemed to assert that only those who have played the game are in a position to opine (Perkins didn’t specify how much or at what level). And he further suggested that Kutcher was displaying some sort of “privilege,” though he didn’t specify which privilege that was.

“Who is everyone?” Perkins asked. “People that actually played the game and those that actually know the game. Click bait? Or purposely showing the privilege? I’m confused here. I understand opinions but damn!”

No Range, No Problem?

Simmons — or more precisely, Simmons’s lack of an outside game — has been the subject of debate ever since he was drafted number one overall out of LSU by the Sixers in 2016.

In 248 games over four seasons (he didn’t play his rookie year due to injury) the 6-foot-10 Australian has made only four three-pointers. That’s one triple every 62 games. And his mid-range game is equally deficient. Simmons has hoisted exactly zero shots between 16 feet and the three-point line this year. And he’s made a grand total of 18 buckets beyond 10 feet over the last two seasons. Not the kind of production one would expect from a player who can easily shoot over most defenders.   

But what Simmons lacks in outside shooting confidence and ability, he makes up for with tremendous defense.

As one of the few players in the league who can effectively guard all positions — including smaller and theoretically quicker point guards — Simmons garnered first-team All-Defensive honors last season and is a top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year this year.

And while critics often belabor Simmons’s apparent insistence on not developing an outside shot, the 24-year-old still manages to fill up a stat sheet: He’s averaging 7.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds boards this season, and his 16.1 points are especially remarkable given his aversion to anything that’s not within breathing distance of the rim.

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