Ben Simmons hears the talk, but his process is not a public experiment

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The first sprung high off the rim, then the ball descended straight back down to the iron, where it bandied about two, three, four times before finally nestling through the strings, coronating Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors as the Game 7 clutch winners, and the Philadelphia 76ers as the disappointing, hard-luck losers of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

A year later, marinating in expectation, the Sixers sit in sixth place in the East. They are suspended in arrested development as the world deals with the coronavirus. But throughout the season, observers searched for cracks on a team anchored by a 26-year-old Joel Embiid and a 23-year-old Simmons: They don't like each other. (Asked separately, both players immediately respond, "Untrue.") They can't coexist on the court. (Sixers coach Brett Brown insists, "They will win a championship together.") Embiid is too big, too injury-prone. And while no one is asking Simmons to be Stephen Curry, is it too much to ask once in a while to take a 3-pointer? Just one?cheap nfl nike jerseys china

This is what Simmons must navigate, a cauldron of controversy -- whenever play resumes. The hope of a mid-April return for the playoffs has been deferred, although sources tell ESPN that Simmons will be good to go as his lower-back impingement has all but dissipated. "If the season resumes," says a team source, "we're expecting to have him."6

Simmons' injury momentarily distracted his detractors from a conspicuous gap in a dossier that would otherwise be the envy of most young aspiring NBA talents. Simmons has the size and strength of a bruising power forward along with the nimbleness of a point guard. His defensive skills, court vision and passing acumen are exceptional, as is his ability to slither in and out of tight spaces. He is a near-impossible defensive assignment -- save the one thing he can't do. Or, to be more precise, won't nike nfl jersey

"I think that Ben Simmons is a great player in transition," 13-year NBA veteran Jared Dudley said last year. "Once you slow him up in the half court, I think he's average. ... It's taking away his easy baskets ... make him make free throws."

Ex-NBA big man Kendrick Perkins was more succinct: "Grow some balls!" he groused on social media last year.

This does not fluster Ben Simmons. It has never been external forces that initiate doubt, because his own internal barometer is so much more discerning than any of his critics. You cannot unnerve him; only he can do that to himself.

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