As we approach the final game of Philadelphia's eight-game run against Western Conference teams, hosting the 10-7 Portland Trail Blazers, number crunching has to follow. It's an entertaining endeavor NBA followers of all levels like to research and share with the basketball community. Ben Simmons' stats are easy to get caught up in, averaging 23.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game over his last seven outings.
Simmons' performances also have provided quality insight to the level he's picking up the game and how comfortable he is in iso situations. According to stats.NBA.com, Simmons is in the 82.6 percentile in iso, fourth among starting point guards. When you dig into the film, Simmons' moments are incredibly promising. Just over the last two games, he's beaten Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Thabo Sefolosha, twice, off of the dribble.
He's not only won the individual matchup, but finished at the basket for points, including an and-1 hook against Green. Simmons comfortably taking on the NBA's elite with his speed/power combination into close range attempts justifies his recent scoring surge. Simmons isn't letting defenders dictate where he's shooting from on the floor anymore, and if he uses his quicks to beat a Mo Harkless or any other Portland wing off of the dribble, don't be surprised.
Simmons' ability to progressively pick up the game in his rookie season mirrors past ROY winners who came into the league polished and unfazed by the level jump. Damian Lillard, the 2013 ROY, at 22 won the award looking like a budding star in his first year. When you're able to play your brand of basketball and the NBA competition isn't overwhelming, players can naturally make strides offensively.
Brett Brown providing Simmons with free reign on his shot attempts, additionally running sets to utilize his passing acumen, and unleashing his prolific offensive point guard has been refreshing and important. Simmons playing with freedom and able to create for himself puts pressure on opposing coaches, having to assign different players to prevent drives.
Lillard, who some might hope Markelle Fultz evolves into, creates so much chaos as well with his quickness and microwave ability. He's struggled with efficiency (40.3 FG, 31.5 3PFG) and Simmons has defended point guards early in games. If Simmons and co. can prevent a breakout games from the Trail Blazers' ace, their winning probability dramatically increases on their home floor.
They'll have advantages elsewhere to exploit, with the plodding Jusuf Nurkic having to venture out of the paint guarding Joel Embiid, and Al-Farouq Aminu out tonight. Noah Vonleh provides Portland with a bigger body who could do damage on the glass, but Robert Covington's spacing could be a detriment for Portland with Aminu's absence when Covington staggers into a smaller lineup.
JJ Redick and the Sixers' guards won't get the luxury of containing a porous shooting Alec Burks or Donovan Mitchell, who went 7-for-29 collectively from the floor Monday, as CJ McCollum invokes some fear. McCollum (22.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.5 APG), like Lillard, is a shot maker type Sixers' wings have had trouble dealing with. Evan Turner and Shabazz Napier aren't offensive threats (Napier's 54.4 FG, 65.0 3PFG shooting totals should regress) so limiting the prolific starting duo is paramount for the 9-7 Sixers. The team recalled Furkan Korkmaz and Joel Embiid will be available.
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