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Ben Simmons: Nearing max extension

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons

22-Year-Old GuardG

Philadelphia 76ers

$Signed a two-year, $12.07 million contract with the 76ers in July of 2016. 76ers exercised $6.43 million team option for 2018-19 in October of 2017. 76ers exercised $8.11 million team option for 2019-20 in October of 2018.

Nearing max extension

July 3, 2019

ANALYSIS
According to Wojnarowski, the 76ers have offered the All-Star point guard a five-year, $170 million deal, which serves as a good starting point for general manager Elton Brand and Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, to work with before the mid-October deadline to finalize the extension. Should Philadelphia come to terms on an extension for the 22-year-old, he would become the fourth player on the roster with an $100-plus million contract on the books, joining Joel Embiid (five years, $150 million), Tobias Harris (five years, $180 million) and Al Horford (four years, $109 million).

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Simmons missed all of 2016-17 after breaking his foot in camp. Though he was cleared for contact in time, he remained sidelined through 2017’s Summer League. He is expected to be available before the start of the season, though the 76ers injury updates on their franchise prospects can be suspect – throughout 2016-17, in both the cases of Simmons and Joel Embiid, many injury updates and recovery timetables released by the team later turned out to have understated the significance of their injuries. Even if fully healthy, foot injuries to big men are scary, and his draft stock may falter due to fears of reinjury. In his only year at LSU, Simmons showed his unusual versatility by averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. The 6’10”, 240 pound player presents an unusual combination of skills, and it is therefore unclear what position he will end up playing most often at the NBA level. After being drafted as a power forward, the 76ers quickly announced that they would experiment with Simmons at point guard, as passing, vision, and playmaking are among his greatest strengths. However, the team then took point guard Markelle Fultz with the first overall selection in the 2017 draft. Additionally, while Simmons possesses the ball-handling and offensive leadership skills to be an option at point guard, he has a poor jump shot, a knack for rebounding, and he is the same size as many centers, including Al Horford and Clint Capela. Simmons is likely to see time at several positions, including small forward, in addition to point guard and power forward, as the 76ers try to determine where he fits best. Experimenting at different positions is good for his long-term growth, though it may cause inconsistencies in his night-to-night production. The 76ers have a realistic shot at the playoffs this season, which should lessen the extreme caution they have demonstrated over the past few seasons towards their elite prospects. Simmons should have opportunities to rack up significant minutes as part of a talented, complementary starting lineup that will likely feature Simmons, Fultz, Embiid, and J.J. Redick.

Since the 76ers decided to trade Andre Iguodala prior to the 2012-13 season and embrace a long-term rebuild, the team had failed to land the No. 1 overall pick in the previous three years, despite possessing a boatload of lottery picks. The organization’s luck finally changed for the better in the 2016 NBA Draft, and the 76ers’ brain trust needed little time to determine that Simmons was the player that they wanted to serve as the new face of the franchise. During his lone season at LSU, the Australian-born Simmons used his uncommon combination of size (6-foot-10, 240 pounds), athleticism and playmaking abilities to dominate the competition, averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He was especially breathtaking in transition — both while running the break and finishing — and excelled at drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line. While Simmons’ jumper remains suspect and some talent evaluators have questioned his effort and intensity on the defensive end, there’s still reason to believe that his immense physical gifts can overcome those deficiencies. The rookie was immediately slated to open his career as the 76ers’ starting power forward, but after fracturing his foot during training camp, it appears the start of his NBA career will be delayed. It’s uncertain how long Simmons will be sidelined, but once he’s cleared to play, he could face minute or game restrictions temporarily before the 76ers allow him to go full bore. As such, those considering drafting Simmons in single-season leagues will have to determine if they can withstand a potential long-term absence, though the uniquely skilled forward’s value in dynasty formats shouldn’t be altered by the injury. Over time, Simmons figures to see more minutes at running the offense as a point forward, as the 76ers already boast considerable frontcourt depth with the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric.