Ben Simmons has been a semi-polarizing figure since entering the league in 2017. On one hand, the point guard with the height of a big man has helped the 76ers see increased success over the last three years.
On the other hand, he occasionally disappears in big moments, and his limited range has been the source of scorn. With some early disappointment from the 76ers and Simmons, however, fans are looking elsewhere for blame — and it has nothing to do with basketball.
The 76ers’ 2019-20 season
Entering the season, many expected the 76ers to take full advantage of a wide-open Eastern Conference and emerge as a contender. Despite losing key pieces in JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, the team added Al Horford and their young core was going to be another year older. So far, these predictions have not come to fruition.
The team stands at 24-14 through their first 38 games. This is not a disastrous season by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn’t part of the dominance some expected. The team is fifth in Eastern Conference standings. More troubling, the team ahead of them, the Toronto Raptors, are ahead without Kawhi Leonard.
Joel Embiid has been solid, if not underwhelming, averaging 23 points per game along with 12 rebounds, three assists, and one block. Tobias Harris has been similarly valuable for the team with his consistent play. Josh Richardson has had another great season individually, and Horford has admittedly struggled to find a role.
The team lacks the depth it previously had, so it needs players like Simmons to step up. While others have, he looks like a lesser player than previous seasons.
Ben Simmons’ season
Simmons‘ numbers are good on their own but regressions compared to the impact he’s supposed to have. He’s averaging less than 15 points per game through 36 games. While Simmons’ nine assists, seven rebounds, and two steals are impressive, they don’t indicate any growth.
The 23-year-old’s offensive role seems to have decreased. With an All-Star frontcourt, his work on the boards has regressed, too. Simmons is still a great defender, but he looks more like a valuable role player than a star. These struggles, if one can call them that, make him a scapegoat.
Happy New Year to 76ers fans!
Recently, the media spotted Simmons with a familiar face, Kendall Jenner, on New Year’s Eve. The supermodel had already drawn the ire of the fans after attending a 2018 game to support her on-again, off-again boyfriend. The 76ers lost the matchup.
In the unforgiving world of social media, fans often blame a team’s success on the pettiest occurrences. Simmons and Kardashian are bound to restoke flames.
Fans have joked about the Kardashian Curse for years. Many fight back, calling it sexist and immature. Some observe, however, that every time an athlete dates a Kardashian, losing seasons follow. The legend takes a similar place in sports culture as the Drake curse (until the Toronto Raptors won a title).
Simmons’ dating life is likely not the reason behind any of his struggles, and calling what he’s done a struggle may be pushing things. The point guard has many strengths and weaknesses. But with a struggling team, he can’t place blame on a girlfriend. The struggles are concerning, but where the team will truly be measured is how they perform in the postseason.
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