Despite the fact that a certain Washington Wizards broadcaster thinks he’s overrated, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is undoubtedly an elite-level player in the NBA. And not just on one side of the ball, either — Simmons is alive and well in the DPOY race in addition to his offensive exploits.
Still, the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star selection clearly has his detractors. And a group of ESPN “insiders” can apparently be counted among them
The four-letter network recently put out its list of the 25 best NBA players under the age of 25. Unsurprisingly, Simmons beat out a lot of young players on the list. However, it was the players that he didn’t beat out that raised eyebrows.
Although he is a cornerstone piece for a top-five team in the Association and an established star, ESPN’s panel nonetheless saw fit to rank a number of players ahead of him, including a rookie whose season has already ended.
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LaMelo Ball, Others Outrank Ben Simmons
While one could argue that Simmons is actually the most accomplished player on the list, the Sixers star came in at No. 7 in the ESPN rankings.
Some of the names ahead of him make sense; Luka Doncic, for example, is an MVP-type who definitely earned his No. 1 distinction. Meanwhile, players like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum are on a similar level to Simmons.
Others, though, become legit head-scratchers when their names show up ahead of Simmons’.
Although he became an All-Star this season, Zion Williamson probably has yet to accomplish enough to rank ahead of Simmons. But he did here, coming in at No. 2 overall.
The worst offense may have come one spot later, though, at No. 3, where the insiders selected injured rookie LaMelo Ball. De’Aaron Fox is also a questionable selection at No. 6.
Stephen A. Smith Sounds Off
To say that fans in Philly likely won’t respond positively to this list is a massive understatement. However, ESPN’s own Stephen A. Smith has already ripped his co-workers to shreds for their disrespect of Simmons.
“Ben Simmons — I understand the brother doesn’t shoot the ball. But what else doesn’t he do?” he wondered aloud on First Take.
“I mean, have you seen this man play defense? Ben Simmons is a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Ben Simmons is 6-foot-10, can handle the rock, can pass, has a very, very high basketball IQ, can finish at the basket, is incredibly athletic, can run the show. I mean, what are we talking about here? What are we talking about?”
Smith was particularly perturbed by Ball’s appearance in the top three. He confessed that he’s a big fan of the Charlotte Hornets guard and believes he will be a big-time star in the league, but is clearly far from ready to put him over multiple elite players.
“To sit up there and put him No. 3, ahead of Donovan Mitchell, ahead of Devin Booker, ahead of Jayson Tatum, just to name a few– ahead of Ben Simmons. I mean, come on. Just come on. People need to get tested,” he proclaimed.
“I disassociate myself from these people; whoever the hell put this list together.”