Simmons had plenty of time to respond to ‘overrated' opinion


Ben Simmons had time. 

After his barber tested positive for COVID-19, Simmons was required by the NBA to quarantine for seven days. The Sixers went 2-0 without him, beating the Bulls and Wizards. On the Washington broadcast, Simmons heard the opinion that he was “overrated.”

He figured he might as well push back.

Sunday night, Simmons had a bit more to say following his 14-point, nine-assist performance in the Sixers’ 134-99 win over the Spurs. 

“I see a lot of s--- on the Internet,” he said. “When I saw that, I had plenty of time, because I was in quarantine still, so I scrolled through his Instagram, saw who he was. It is what is. He’s a 5-foot-5 commentator for the Wizards, man. I can’t give it too much attention. I was just playing a little game with him. But it is what it is — everyone has their voice and they can say what they want. It is what it is.”

Indeed, NBC Sports Washington broadcaster Justin Kutcher is entitled to his opinion. Kutcher, who doubled down on his stance Friday night while calling Simmons a “potential DPOY,” hasn’t addressed the issue since. Player-broadcaster feuds aren’t common, and we’re assuming this won’t become one. The Sixers have already wrapped up their season series against the Wizards, so they wouldn’t play them again this year outside of a potential playoff matchup.

Regardless of how exactly Simmons is rated by various parties, head coach Doc Rivers was glad to have him back Sunday. 

“Ben, he knows who he is and how we should play," Rivers said. “I always liken it to a catcher who calls a great game. He started to see things and call the game. There’s several times he makes the call without me making the call. That’s what we want to get to, and it takes some time. He’s been fantastic.”

The conventional wisdom with Joel Embiid sidelined for at least two weeks by a left knee bone bruise is that the Sixers’ other stars need to replace his production. Simmons isn’t currently a consistent 30 points per game player like Embiid, although he’s averaged 18.6 and shot 62.4 percent from the floor since Jan. 22. Efficient, high-scoring Simmons games would be great, of course, but Rivers is asking him to play even faster, limit turnovers, smartly spread the ball around to his teammates and defend top perimeter players. 

None of that seems beyond Simmons’ capacity — as Rivers said, Simmons knows who he is and what the Sixers need — but maintaining first place in the Eastern Conference without Embiid is a difficult task.

“We got to do it,” Simmons said. “This is the situation and I think everybody realizes that. It is what is, so everyone has to step up and play their part. We’re competing for a championship. This isn’t a team that’s just trying to make the playoffs. We want to hold the first seed and win a championship. We know what it takes. We’ve got all the pieces, everyone just needs to stay locked in.”

Read more: Popovich has perfect perspective on Simmons' game and jumper 

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