Ben Simmons draws odd comparison from TNT's Kenny Smith


The 76ers rolled over the Mavericks on Thursday in a nationally televised game, and Ben Simmons had another strong game: 15 points, seven assists, two steals, and stifling defense on Dallas star Luka Doncic, forcing him into more turnovers (7) than he had made field goals (6).

Simmons was a main topic of conversation on TNT’s halftime show, where Kenny Smith made an interesting comparison:

“He could be a bigger version of [Hawks PG Rajon] Rondo,” Smith said. “He could play like that. Rondo wasn’t a great three-point shooter, he was, y’know, selective. Rondo would take the space up, he would create opportunities for other people, he could be a bigger version of Rondo.”

I'm not sure why NBA analysts need to try to compare everyone to someone from the recent past, but let's dive in.

To be fair, there are several similarities. They’re both NBA players, and both play the point guard position. Both Rondo and Simmons are gifted with superior court vision, and pride themselves on playing great defense. Neither one is a real threat from outside the paint. Both of them could use some work on their free throws.

Interestingly, Rondo has 32 career triple-doubles, one more than Simmons, although Rondo has played nearly 900 games in his career, compared with 245 for Simmons.

But even if you had seen Rondo in his prime, watching Simmons play by comparison is almost like watching the game on double speed. Even this early in Simmons’ career, you see there are things the 76ers All-Star does that Rondo simply couldn’t.

Rondo made four straight All-Star games early in his career, and won a title in his rookie season with the Celtics in 2007. But in 2013, the year he made his fourth All-Star game, Rondo tore an ACL, missed an entire calendar year, and was never truly the same player after that.

If Simmons ends up with the same career resume as Rondo, it would be nothing to be ashamed of. But the 76ers, and their fans, are aiming higher.

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