With under five minutes left in Saturday night’s game, Ben Simmons posted up Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell around the right elbow. The game had already been decided, as the Philadelphia 76ers were leading by 21 points.
After Simmons got position against Powell, he caught the pass, took a dribble and made a turnaround jumper. The bucket was a perfect finish for perhaps Simmons’ best game of the season. He scored a season-high 26 points in the Sixers’ 126-101 win over the Raptors. He also had a team-high 12 rebounds and led the way with eight assists.
Simmons has had a December that he can be proud of. Before the game against the Raptors, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year was averaging 17.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game thus far in the month.
He’s also had two triple-doubles in December and scored 20 points or more three times, including this game against the Raptors.
What Simmons has done well during this stretch is that he’s showed the full scope of his game. The world knows that Simmons is a gifted passer and playmaker. He’s ranked No. 8 in the league for assists per game (7.9). He’s also led the Sixers on the break well and has facilitated the offense in impressive fashion.
But his scoring ability has been what’s in full effect during the 10 games the Sixers have played in December. Simmons scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, and he did so in multiple ways.
On one play in the fourth quarter, he jumped to catch a lob pass from Mike Muscala, making the alley-oop layup. And on another play, he curled toward the basket as Jimmy Butler tossed a pass to him for an easy dunk.
The turnaround jump shot against Powell should be a good sign, too. Simmons doesn’t take many jump shots, as he’s shot 57.6 percent of his shots 0-3 feet away from the basket this season. If Simmons can grow more comfortable taking those turnaround jumpers, he can potentially thrive even more in the post.
And even with his high scoring total, Simmons was two assists away from tallying what would have been his third triple-double of the month and his fifth of the season. After Simmons got a triple-double against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Butler mentioned that “if he (Simmons) can get constant triple-doubles, we can get constant dubs.”
The Sixers are 3-1 this season when Simmons gets a triple-double. His best abilities are certainly his passing and basketball IQ. It’s obvious Simmons knows how to set up his teammates, but in the month of December, he’s shown how well he can score the basketball as well.