Ben Simmons has proven to be more than worth the wait for the Sixers.
Simmons, who was forced to miss all of last season with a foot injury after going No. 1 in the 2016 draft, became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 — four years before Simmons was born — to record double-doubles in his first four games in Monday’s 97-86 victory over the Pistons.
More impressively, Simmons (21 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) joined Oscar Robertson and the immortal Hambone Williams as the only players to record a triple-double within their first four career games.
For reference …
Ben Simmons just tallied a triple-double in his *4th* game. For reference, LeBron didn’t get his first until January of his second season.
But wait, there’s more! Simmons also joined the Big O as the only players to average at least 17 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists through their first four career games.
“It’s awesome to have a triple-double, but at the same time, it’s even better to have a win,” Simmons said. “We played the right way.”
No one more than Simmons, who might have been playing in his 400th career game with the amount of poise he brought to bear against the Pistons.
Shaking off his early season shooting woes, the rookie picked his spots while sinking 8 of 11 shots from the floor.
The rest of his production on Monday was down to his unique combination of size, skill and IQ, attributes that have led Sixers coach Brett Brown to give Simmons the keys to the Sixers’ offense and let him go as their de facto point guard at 6-foot-10.
While not as athletic or explosive as the aforementioned James, Simmons bore more than a little similarity to the four-time MVP as he routinely used his size to look over Detroit’s defense and pick out the open man with simple-but-smart passes.
That’s not so say the rookie doesn’t have some flash — far from it. Witness his behind-the-back pass to Joel Embiid for an early 3-pointer, or his lefty power slam off a crossover late in the third quarter.
With only 138 career minutes in the NBA so far, Simmons has an entire career in front of him. But given what he’s already capable of, the playoffs might be a legitimate possibility for the Sixers after all.