Ben Simmons sat out the 2016/17 NBA season, after the Philadelphia 76ers continued their morbid marriage with high draft picks and long-term injuries.
The foot injury –sustained in late September of last year– was heartbreak to Australian basketball fans, who were filled with intrigue at the prospect of Simmons’ debut onto the NBA hardwood.
While that’s been somewhat delayed, Simmons’ NBA Summer League showing last year had punters flocking for the Sixers guard to become the first Australian ever to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award.
With Simmons now a year older, a year wiser and of course, a year further prepared for the rigorous nature of an NBA season – fans are frothing to see what the talented youngster can provide the fresh looking Sixers.
With his eligibility for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, it would seem that Simmons will enter the season as the league’s hottest rookie commodity.
So why is no one talking about him?
Lonzo Ball has been the biggest story of the last month, thanks to a variety of reasons.
Ball returned to California, after being drafted by the league’s most popular team in the Los Angeles Lakers. He has a loud-mouthed father in LaVar Ball, who sells his son as well as Vince McMahon does in the WWE wrestling business, and is playing some stellar basketball in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Hype is one of the biggest winners in the basketball world.
You see media outlets talk about someone, your local high school students are talking about that same player.
Someone make headlines on SportsCenter? Watch out for the guys on your domestic basketball team trying to emulate them the next night.
It all filters down.
When Simmons entered the league, the hype surrounded him.
The hype slowly diminishes, while he’s sidelined and off the floor.
After a cold start, Lonzo Ball has put on a clinic at the NBA Summer League, registering two triple doubles in the same event, the first player to ever do so.
🚨Another sweet dish by Lonzo Ball🚨pic.twitter.com/ly2stwtpo9
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 14, 2017
He’s had media surrounding him thanks to his choice of footwear. FOOTWEAR!
Everything that he does on the floor, is backed up off the floor. He is a major part of a new merchandise company hitting the basketball world in the Big Baller Brand, something that’s sure to take off in the years to come.
Lonzo w/ the reverse finish. 👏
— Leading Sports Media (@LeadingSports_) July 14, 2017
While Simmons made the decision to bypass the NBA Summer League, his practice regime has him back on court looking the goods, with great shooting touch and talk that coach Brett Brown wants him starting at the point guard position upon his return.
The Sixers cast has been strengthened this past off-season with the acquisition of number one draft pick Markelle Fultz, who will complement Simmons’ passing ability delightfully. They also managed to score a huge coup in Aussie Jonah Bolden at pick 36, who could provide even further length and athleticism if the Sixers decide to keep him around this season.
It’s too early to tell whether or not Simmons and Ball will be a two horse race towards the league’s rookie award, although LaVar Ball will surely have something to say about that.
It won’t matter who’s being spoken about before the regular season opener tips off, it will matter who’s being spoken about at the end.
That player will be your 2017/18 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Could it still be Ben Simmons?