The praise is coming thick and fast for Ben Simmons after the Australian basketballer became the first NBA rookie since Magic Johnson in 1980 to record a triple-double in the league’s playoffs.
In order to chalk up a triple-double a player must accumulate a double-digit statistics in three of five statistical categories—points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots
Simmons scored 17 points to go with 13 rebounds and 10 assists in Philadelphia’s 106-102 win over Miami Heat on Sunday (AEST), as the 76ers took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round playoff series.
“He was a monster,” Philadelphia centre Joel Embiid said of his teammate. “He was a beast tonight.”
Simmons took the avalanche of accolades in his stride.
“I think it just means I’m doing my job,” he said.
“Stats that I’ve averaged all season have been up there so it’s not really anything new for the team or myself.
“As long as we’re winning I’m happy, so all those accolades will come if we’re all doing the right thing.”
JJ Redick, who scored a team-high 24 points for the 76ers in game four, says he’s seeing a different Simmons in the playoffs.
“It’s almost become expected now that he’s got to go average a triple-double,” Redick said.
“He’s very tough physically, but he’s even tougher, I think, mentally.
“The last four games have been as vocal and as demonstrative as I’ve seen him all season. He’s been fantastic. He’s coming out of his shell in regards to leadership and that’s huge for us.”
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown says having the 21-year-old Simmons and 24-year-old Embiid at his disposal is a special situation.
“I think Ben’s composure down the stretch … he’s one of these rare athletes that rarely say ‘Oh Ben Simmons is tired’, he doesn’t seem to fatigue blatantly,” Brown said.
“I’m told he’s the first rookie since Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson to post a playoff triple double, and I think that there’s greatness in both of those two players.
“They’re [Simmons and Embiid] fantastic teammates … those two guys were exceptional tonight – mentally, physically – and certainly drove the win home.”