Ben Simmons
Is Ben Simmons actually underrated? The criticism of Simmons’ inability to make a jump shot has gone too far. Let’s not forget how good Ben Simmons is. (David Dow/Getty Images)

The NBA community seems to be out on Ben Simmons. Name the last time someone actually praised Simmons? It’s been a while. We know the story. Ben Simmons not only can’t shoot, he basically refuses to even try. What if we’re taking the story too far. What if Ben Simmons has actually started to become underrated?

Here is one thing I can really appreciate, Ben Simmons plays defense. On a per-game basis, Simmons ranks 1st in steals, 3rd in deflections, and 2nd in loose ball stats. His defense actually gets overlooked because Philadelphia is pretty good on that side of the court without him. Still, Simmons is one of the best defenders in the league. One big advantage nobody talks about is that the former LSU product is 6-foot-10. How many point guards are that tall and long?

Want to know why the Hawks are so bad? Trae Young can’t defend anybody. Simmons provides defensive prowess and versatility. He can switch onto any player. It’s a valuable commodity to have. What does Trae Young do? He’s become a tetherball for teams. Young gets put in the whoever offense. Atlanta will never be a dominant team because of it.

Rebounds should also mean something? Part of being so long and tall is that Simmons provides extra boards. It gives the 76ers another advantage. Simmons is averaging 7.8 rebounds per game. A figure that could be much higher if Philadelphia wasn’t so big in general. Simmons is arguably the best rebounder on the team. It means something, right?

Simmons is also a great passer. 8.2 assists are near the top of the leaderboards. Simmons has always been a great passer. That’s not hard to spot. The Australian guard gets downhill quickly and finds the open floor. He’s more than a willing passer. You can’t call Simmons selfish. In fact, the only thing you can critique him for is being too passive. Isn’t that a good thing rather than being too ball-dominant or taking bad shots?

Ben Simmons is also very efficient. That matters most of all. Can you put the ball in the basket? Can you do it at a more efficient rate than the other team? Check and check. He’s shooting over 58 percent from the floor. Sign me up for that. The free throw percentage is also at a career-high at 62.7 percent. Simmons is not a total liability at the line like he used to be. Oh, and he’s also giving you 16.7 points per game. I’ll take that too.

So what you’re saying is that Simmons defends, rebounds, scores at an efficient rate, and makes the right pass. At some point, maybe we’re looking at the wrong thing. At some point, the shooting thing has become overblown. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big deal. The modern NBA requires it. Still, there’s a formula that exists.

Philadelphia needs to study every single Milwaukee Bucks game. Put the ball in Giannis’ hands and space the floor with shooters. Put the ball in Ben Simmons’ hands, spread the floor, and surround him with shooters. You’re telling Philadelphia can’t do that? You’re telling me that formula can’t win a lot of games? I’m not buying it. Simmons is valuable. Shit, if the Rockets can use small ball and make Westbrick functional, Simmons sure as hell has value. It’s time to give Simmons the proper respect.