Ben Simmons was a complete sensation coming out of college, and even though he was forced to miss his entire rookie season due to injury, he proved he was worth the wait last year when he won the Rookie of the Year award.
But, Luka Doncic, this year’s sensational rookie is also turning a lot of heads as he’s the frontrunner to take home the ROY this season, is considered as one of the best rookies of the decade.
Obviously, both of them are quite different players and the only things they have in common is a bright future ahead of them and the potential to turn a franchise around for good. But, who’s a better player? Let’s break this down:
Inside Scoring: Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons doesn’t need to rely on his jump shot in order to be a dominant scorer, and even though Doncic is great at finishing below the rim, we have to give Big Ben the nod here. Simmons makes all of his damage from within close range with layups and dunks, and there’s just no stopping him when he drives and is a career 53.3% shooter.
Outside Scoring: Luka Doncic
This one’s a no-brainer. Ben Simmons has no shooting stroke whatsoever, and he’s yet to score his first three-pointer in the NBA despite playing as a point guard. Luka, on the other hand, is a master at hitting step-back threes even when heavily guarded, and he’s shooting 37.4% from beyond the arc so far.
Playmaking: Ben Simmons
Even though Doncic is a great playmaker for a rookie, averaging 4.9 dimes a contest, Ben Simmons is already one of the best playmakers we’ve seen in ages. Simmons is a generational talent when it comes to passing, and he’s a far superior playmaker with 8.1 dimes a game through two seasons. Also, his career-high for dimes is 15 compared to Doncic’s 12.
Athleticism: Ben Simmons
When Ben Simmons takes off, there’s just no way to stop him – unless you send him to the line to try and earn those points the hard way – at least for most human beings. Simmons is long, strong and incredibly athletic. He can finish with both hands and is an explosive and emphatic dunker.
Defense: Ben Simmons
Simmons length is one of his best features, as he’s one of the most switchable defenders in the league. Due to his size, he can guard 1 through 5 with great ease, and he’s usually in charge of checking some of the best scorers in the league. He averages 1.6 steals per game compared to Doncic’s 1.1.
Rim Protection: Ben Simmons
Obviously, Simmons being bigger and often in charge of guarding smaller opposition, he’s got the upper hand over Doncic when it comes to rim protection as well. Throughout his young career, Simmons has averaged 0.8 swats a game compared to Doncic’s 0.3, with a career-high of 4 blocks compared to Doncic’s 2.
Rebounding: Ben Simmons
Once again, size gives Ben Simmons a huge advantage over Luka Doncic, as he’s pretty much a walking triple-double threat. Through 1 and a half seasons, Big Ben averages 8.5 rebounds a game compared to Doncic’s 6.7 and has a career high of 18 boards compared to Doncic’s 11. Also, he’s got a 13.5% of total rebounds compared to Doncic’s 11.2%.
Clutch: Luka Doncic
Even though he’s not been in the league for quite long, Luka Doncic has already shown he’s got the clutch gene in his veins. Hitting an incredible shot to send a game to overtime, Doncic has shown no signs of fear or hesitation. Simmons, on the other hand, vastly struggles in crunch time as he’s constantly hacked and can’t buy a free throw to save his life, while his lack of a jump shot really exposes him as well.
Leadership: Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic has already turned the Dallas Mavericks around. They’re not going to make the playoffs this year, but he’s not afraid of the spotlight. He asks for the ball, set his teammates up, and gets hyped with their plays. Simmons is a vocal player, but there’s no doubt Joel Embiid is the Sixers’ leader and the Australian kind of disappeared in the playoffs when it mattered the most.
Basketball IQ: Even
Doncic hits incredible shots because of his great talent, sometimes he takes heavily contested shots with a lot of time left on the clock, while Simmons always seems to know when to drive, when to kick, and how to make the most of a mismatch. Still, Doncic knows how to get to his spots despite his lack of athleticism, and is a master of ball-fakes. He knows how to draw contact as good as veteran scorers, so this one’s pretty much a tie.
Better Scorer: Luka Doncic
Obviously, Luka Doncic is a far superior scorer than Ben Simmons, and it’s not even close. While Simmons is a great player below the rim, Doncic can consistently hit from all three levels, let alone Simmons’ horrid 56.6% from the free throw line compared to Doncic’s 73.7%. Doncic pulls up, lays it up, dunks, and is quite a solid catch-and-shoot scorer. Take away dunks and layups from Simmons and he’s useless as a scorer.
Impact: Luka Doncic
The Philadelphia 76ers have proved that they can get by without Ben Simmons, even though he really makes them better. The Mavericks offense, on the other hand, flows almost entirely through Doncic. Defenders focus so much on him because he’s got a lot of tricks under his bag, while Simmons is a one-trick-pony. He’s a stud, but Embiid’s their most impactful player.
1 on 1 Game: Luka Doncic
Even though Doncic is not as fast, big and strong as Ben Simmons, and his defense isn’t anywhere near the Sixers’ stud, he’d pretty much kill him should they go one-on-one. Doncic has great handles and could just get him all dizzy with his crafty moves and step-back three-pointers, while Simmons would have to do most of his damage in the post.