Philadelphia knocked off Cleveland on national television Thursday night, leading most of the way and holding of a Cavaliers team where LeBron James was playing at an MVP level again.
One key reason? Ben Simmons. He had 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, nine rebounds, and eight assists. He and Joel Embiid led a Philly starting five that outplayed the Cavs starters and that got the Sixers the win.
After the game, LeBron had high praise for Simmons on Instagram.
View this post on Instagram
I told y’all a while back that my young King was next in line! Getting better and better every night out! Tonight another example of that. Fun to watch and compete against you again and #TheProcess @joelembiid. Remember lil bro settle for nothing less than GREATNESS!!! @bensimmons
First, remember that Simmons’ agent is Rich Paul, LeBron’s agent and long-time confidant. That’s the connection.
I hate comparisons of rookies/young players to all-time greats (and comparing draft picks to them is idiotic). However, Simmons has the kind of well-rounded game that can mirror LeBron in a sense — Simmons almost certainly is not going to be as great as LeBron, but his ability to lift a team up in a variety of ways shares similarities of style and potential to lead a team. Yes, Simmons needs to develop a more consistent jump shot — so did LeBron when he entered the league. It’s about growth and development to get near his potential.
I wouldn’t read, “see, LeBron wants to go to the Sixers this summer” into this at all. LeBron was not in Philly checking out schools, and if his primary goal is to go where he can win a title does he want to bet that on Embiid’s health? LeBron is going to play out this season and then survey the situation, in both conferences, and make his call. This Instagram shout out is far more agent tied than anything else.