Sixteen games into his NBA career, Ben Simmons already has passed the point of surprising people with on-court accomplishments.
The 76ers point guard recorded yet another milestone in Monday night’s 107-86 victory over the Utah Jazz at the Wells Fargo Center. The rookie turned in his best offensive scoring performance of his young career.
Simmons scored 22 of his game- and career-high 27 points in the second half. Taking over the game, the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder made 11 of 16 shots and attacked the basket after intermission. That came after he hit just 2 of 8 shots in the first half.
In addition, Simmons finished with 10 rebounds, four steals, two assists and four turnovers. It was his fourth straight double-double and 11th of the season.
“You can all see him sort of kicking his back and he’s taking off,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “He’s ready to run it down somebody’s throat.”
While Simmons didn’t attempt a 3-pointer, the 21-year-old thrived in corner pick-and-rolls. The Australian native got where he wanted on the floor. He scored on a 20-foot pull-up jumper, a 13-foot floater, a 12-foot pull-up, a 15-foot turnaround hook, and an array of layups.
“I just kept attacking,” he said. “I just stayed aggressive in the second half. I knew (the scoring output) was going to come.
“The first half was very slow, and then the game came to me.”
As a result, Simmons became the franchise’s first player to score in double figures in each of his first 16 career games since the Syracuse Nationals became the Sixers before the 1963-64 season.
That’s not the overwhelming rookie-of-the-year favorite’s only accolade.
Simmons ranks second in the NBA in steals at 32, behind Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George (41). He also ranks third in steals per game (2), behind George (2.56) and Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn (2.1).
Simmons (11 blocks), a supposed defensive liability at point guard, and Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo (30 steals, 16 blocks) are the only league players with at least 30 steals and 10 blocks.
The former LSU standout is fifth in the league in assists per game (7.6), behind Houston shooting guard James Harden (9.9), Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook (9.7), Washington point guard John Wall (9.1) and Cleveland forward LeBron James (8.5). And Simmons leads all NBA rookies in scoring (18.7 points) and rebounding (9.2).