Old school Isiah Thomas rips Ben Simmons for not playing every Summer League game

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He does realize it’s Summer League, right?

The NBA world has been in Las Vegas the past week for Summer League, a series of exhibition games where teams look at their just-drafted rookies, guys they might consider for the final couple roster spots/camp invites, and mostly guys who will spend next season in Europe or the D-League.

The outcomes of the actual games mean about as much as the color of your toothbrush — Summer League is an evaluation tool. Nothing more. It’s not important and top players — such as highly drafted rookies — are often pulled by teams after a few games.

Don’t tell that to Hall of Famer and former NBA coach Isiah Thomas. The Sixers sat No. 1 pick Ben Simmons on Wednesday night, and Thomas was on the NBA TV broadcast. Here is what Thomas said, the video is above (via Eye on Basketball):

“He should be playing tonight. You got people coming into the building, they want to see him play. He’s a rookie. He’s taking selfies and signing autographs, I mean you 19 — earn your money. Get out on the floor and play.”

Wrong. 

I don’t think we can say this enough: It’s Summer League. It doesn’t matter. I get the old school “I always compete” mentality, but this is not when Ben Simmons earns his money — he earns it when the games start in October. The real games. The ones count for something. That’s when he needs to always compete. What matters in Las Vegas is he got in a little run with better competition than he saw at LSU, the coaches got to evaluate him in that setting, learn some things, work with him on others. 

What matters most for Simmons at Summer League? Staying healthy. Between the Utah and Las Vegas leagues Simmons played in five games this summer. That’s plenty.

Summer League has become a draw for hardcore fans of the game, it’s become a surprisingly large spectacle and event. Which is awesome. But let’s not confuse the games with something that has real meaning beyond an evaluation tool.