For a rookie, these are huge numbers: 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists.
Oscar Robertson did it at the start of his Hall of Fame career. Nobody else did it until Magic Johnson came along.
Now Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons has reached that threshold, passing it against the Knicks Thursday as he racked up his eighth triple-double of the season — 13 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists — moving him past a tie with Magic for second on the list of rookie triple-doubles (Robertson had 26). Here is what Simmons said after the game, via Ian Begley of ESPN.
“It’s surreal knowing that the game’s been played for a long time and so many greats have been through,” Simmons said. “I’ve set a record with Magic and Oscar Robertson, which is surreal to me.”
Simmons is in a close race with Utah’s Donovan Mitchell for Rookie of the Year — both men are leading their teams to the postseason, although doing it in different ways with different styles of game. It’s not an easy choice.
The thing that was said after the game that turned heads in Philly was Brett Brown saying Ben Simmons may not be the Sixers point guard down the line. Via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“I think to anoint him ‘you’re only a point guard forever’ is not in my mind,” Brown said before the Sixers’ 118-110 win over the Knicks. “I think it’s going to be a one (point guard) or a four (power forward), that’s where I see him.”
“Definitely a one, not four,” Simmons said. “I don’t want to play a four. I mean, I’ll play the four but I don’t want to be predominantly in the four position because I feel like I can do a lot more from the point guard position, as you’ve seen.”
Simmons as a small-ball four in certain matchups, going against a stretch four from another team, makes some sense. He shouldn’t be defending a more physical four — don’t match him up against a Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Paul Millsap kind of four — but Simmons could play a little as a big.
The real question: Why would you want to take the ball out of his hands as a point guard? Those rookie numbers are not a fluke.