Ben Simmons hasn’t reached his potential when it comes to scoring the ball, and that’s fine for now. Simmons is only 22, and he still has time to develop his scoring skills.
But what isn’t fine is how he has played in the Philadelphia 76ers’ series against the Toronto Raptors.
Though Simmons is averaging 9.4 points per game and averaging 8.4 field goals a game, what’s more concerning is how he has not been an elite playmaker. The Sixers played their worst game of the playoffs Tuesday, as they lost 125-89 during Game 5 against the Raptors.
Simmons scored seven points and took five shots, but the fact he didn’t help organize the offense was more significant. He committed five turnovers, second only to Joel Embiid’s team-leading eight turnovers.
Throughout the series, Simmons has actually done well in limiting his turnovers — he had seven for the series before Game 5. But while he committed his highest number of turnovers Tuesday, his assist numbers have been down in this series.
Simmons averaged 7.7 assists per game in the regular season, and he averaged 7.6 in the first round against the Brooklyn Nets. In five games against the Raptors, Simmons has averaged 4.6 assists.
With Simmons not performing what he does best, the Sixers’ offense hasn’t been its best, with the exception of the Game 3 win. The Sixers played one of their best games in the playoffs in Game 3, and Simmons totaled seven assists, the most he’s earned in a game for this series.
For the Sixers, Simmons being an inconsistent scorer isn’t always a big factor. But Simmons not being a good facilitator affects them significantly more.
In the four games the Sixers have lost in the playoffs, Simmons has averaged 3.5 assists. And in each of those losses, the Sixers also haven’t moved the ball well, averaging 21 as a team.
The Sixers were one of the best teams in the NBA during the regular season when it came to moving the ball. They ranked fourth in the league for assists per game (26.9); Simmons controlling the offense was a reason the Sixers moved the ball well.
Philly needs Simmons to do what he does best, even if he’s not scoring many points. Being a quality playmaker is the primary reason Simmons is an All-Star.
But if he can’t even control the offense well, the Sixers will be in danger of losing this series.
The Sixers will look to avoid elimination at home Thursday, when they’ll play Game 6 against the Raptors at 8 p.m. EST.