Melbet Believe it or not, Brooklyn Nets PG/PF Ben Simmons used to be universally recognized a strong fantasy basketball option. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft — and nobody questioned the move at the time — averaged 15.9 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 7.7 APG and 1.7 SPG over four seasons as a Philadelphia 76ers building block.
Sure, things got ugly and controversial at the conclusion of his tenure, but fantasy managers did enjoy Simmons for the time he was an active player in Philadelphia, until mercifully trading him to Brooklyn in February 2022.
The current version of Simmons is obviously not the same player contributing occasional triple-doubles and outstanding defense, but there remains some good things to aid fantasy managers. Simmons is averaging double-digit rebounds over his six games this season and continues to be an excellent, all-seeing passer, still capable of making his teammates better and providing easier shots.
Simmons will not play in Thursday’s game with the Miami Heat, but he is averaging 30.8 ESPN fantasy points per game, making him, on a per-game basis, safely one of the top 100 players in ESPN standard (points) scoring.
Not all is well, of course, and fantasy managers remain rather frustrated on two counts: First, Simmons hasn’t been an active player in nearly half the team’s games this season, and he has a long history of injuries preventing him from suiting up.
Simmons famously missed his first NBA season with a foot injury, his sixth season with a back injury slash uncomfortable holdout, then he missed much of the 2022-23 season as well, his first with the Nets. His current malady is a hip contusion with nerve irritation. Simmons played in 160 games over the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns. He has not been remotely durable since then.
The other issue, and perhaps equally frustrating, is that Simmons is overly reluctant to shoot the basketball, far more than he used to be. He was never Pete Maravich (look him up, a fellow LSU product!) to start with, attempting 12.3 field goal attempts while winning the Rookie of the Year award, but he has attempted less than half that total per game as a Net.
Simmons used to shoot considerably more. He scored in the mid-teens on a regular basis, often via the fast break, as he has never been a 3-point option or strong (or willing) free throw shooter.
There’s still time to join or create a league in the No. 1 Fantasy basketball game. Your league starts fresh on the first scoring period following your draft.
<!–Create or join a fantasy basketball league on ESPN. Jdbkk Your championship run starts today!
–>Sign up today!
Now, Simmons averages 6.5 PPG on six field goal attempts per game, rarely looking for his own shot. His notable era in Philadelphia lore essentially ended when he chose to pass up a late layup in a Game 7 home playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Simmons is even more likely to pass up shots now.
Fantasy managers in points formats don’t care how the points are accrued, so Simmons the playmaker doesn’t need to traditionally score like former teammates Joel Embiid or Tyrese Maxey to aid fantasy managers, but we do need more than this. It is hard to play more than 31 minutes per night and score so few traditional points.
For proper perspective, look at Golden State Warriors PF/C Draymond Green, who also does his more notable statistical work with assists and, previously, with rebounds and steals. Green, rostered in 70% of ESPN standard leagues, entered Tuesday averaging 30.5 fantasy points per game. It’s at 27.1 points after his quick ejection.
Simmons, rostered in 62.8% of leagues, does more. They are below-average traditional scorers, and thus less valuable in roto/category formats, but they still help fantasy managers in points leagues. Portland Trail Blazers PF Jerami Grant averages 22.8 PPG, but only 29.4 fantasy points. San Antonio Spurs SF/SG Devin Vassell is at 29.5 fantasy points per outing. Simmons, and prior to Tuesday, Green, outscore them.
Simmons investors obviously want him healthy and performing, and hope he can score more traditionally, while also returning to the days when he piled on the steals. Simmons led the NBA in steals, at 2.1 per game, during the 2019-20 season. He is a two-time member of the All-Defensive team.
This overly hesitant version of Simmons — perhaps physically compromised all season and/or for years — has three steals in six games. He rarely looks to shoot, scoring no more than 11 points in a game, and he has made only one of his four free throw attempts, not enough to hurt the Nets or fantasy managers, but still, not enough to help, either. He used to go to the line more than five times per game.
Where do fantasy managers go from here? Simmons remains day-to-day with his hip injury, and perhaps he returns to the court soon. Mock him for any on- or off-court reason you wish — and he has provided myriad reasons to do so in his career — but Simmons is clearly a talented basketball player, a proven difference-maker.
He is certainly capable of top-notch production, but even the current version has value. Fewer than 10 players average more rebounds per game than Simmons, and he has finished among the top 12 in assists each of his first three active seasons.
Simmons has a statistical pathway to being a top-50 fantasy option, assuming he returns to health and his current 30 MPG. The rebounds are awesome, especially for fantasy managers using him as a point guard, where top production in that statistic is unexpected. The assists are solid. Simmons could be more active defensively, and he could accrue more steals. He can score if he wants, and certainly could score a wee bit more, perhaps 10 PPG, similar to Golden State’s Green, who is far more aggressive. We don’t want Simmons attempting free throws. The less the merrier. He has hit better than 50% on field goals each season of his career. More of that would suffice.
Will it happen? Perhaps not even Simmons knows his future statistical direction or even whether he will remain in Brooklyn for long, as he is a pending free agent after the season and, as a result, potential trade bait during this season.
For all his faults, Simmons, 27, used to be a terrific fantasy option, with elite speed and instincts. He can do this again. We would all welcome a return to that status.
Lodi291 Register and get a big gift package!