After being selected with the number 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Ben Simmons burst onto the scene in outstanding fashion in the 2017-18 season winning Rookie of the Year, well and truly justifying the number one pick.

Since then Ben has developed into one of the best defenders in the league. In the 2018-19 season, he improved his defense to earn a spot on the NBA All-Defensive third team.

By 2019-20 a 23-year-old Ben Simmons was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year, lead the league in steals, and earned a spot on the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

There is no question Ben’s development on the defensive end has been brilliant. The problem is there seems to be little improvement on the offensive end of the court.

He wowed with his unbelievable vision, passing, speed, and athleticism from his first year. But what has changed on this end of the floor since?

There has been a minor 6% improvement in free throw percentage. Besides this Ben has basically flatlined in all offensive areas since his rookie year.

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Brandon Ingram was the number two pick in the 2016 draft. He came into the league shooting nine points per game, 29% from three and 62% from the line. He has gradually improved to an average of 24 points per game, 39% from three and 85% from the line. At the start of the 2020-21 season, he is now showing signs that he has developed into a quality playmaker averaging 6.5 assists per game.

Jaylen Brown, the number three pick in this draft, did not earn starter-level minutes in his first season. In the second season, 2017-18 he averaged 14 points per game. He was up to 20 per game by 2019-20 and looks to have made another leap at 24 points per game so far in the 2020-21 season.

For the third season in a row, Simmons has come back looking the same on offense.

So, why the lack of development?

Is he putting in the work? Most reports indicate that Ben does work on his jumper and we know it looks decent in practice and pre-game. Unfortunately, the reality is we don’t know how hard he works. Some guys can put in the work and just don’t develop the same way others do and it could be as simple as that.

While it’s hard to ignore this very real lack of offensive development, once in a while, we still need to rid ourselves of the critical lens that we constantly view Ben Simmons through and appreciate one of the best defenders and facilitators in the game.

Featured Image: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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