NBA players are like snowflakes in that no two are exactly the same. It’s why pre-draft comparisons that tout players such as Ben Simmons as the next LeBron James or Magic Johnson are almost always overzealous displays of hyperbole.
The reasons those comparisons are made is less because those players are guaranteed to become as good as that next great, though. They’re usually just shorthand to give fans an idea of what that players’s game resembles.
That’s because there are similarities between stars of various generations, and players of one time period can always learn a thing or two from those that came before.
And according toJames Herbert of CBS Sports, that’s exactly what the Philadelphia 76ers are doing, with head coach Brett Brown using highlights of Magic Johnson to help mold Simmons into an oversized point guard in his own right:
Brown has gone over Magic Johnson film with Simmons, Stephen Curry film with Fultz and Tim Duncan film with Embiid. What he prefers, though, is to show them clips of themselves, even going back to high school and college. He asks open-ended questions — “I don’t want to be Professor Brown,” he said — and wants these sessions to be interactive and collaborative.
Johnson is arguably the greatest point guard in NBA history, so to compare him with Simmons is obviously premature. However, looking at Johnson as a general mold of the type of player that Simmons wants to eventually be, isn’t far off at all.
Simmons looks to have more of a scoring mentality than Johnson did and (of course) doesn’t quite possess Johnson’s ungodly floor vision just yet. That said, the way Johnson was able to leverage his size to find angles other players couldn’t and the pace he played with are a few of the things Simmons could serve to gain from watching Johnson.
Even if it’s hardly blasphemy to suggest he’ll never quite reach Johnson’s heights. Still, Simmons learning from Johnson can hardly be a bad thing, and it’s one more way the Lakers legend’s legacy continues to make an impact on the game today.
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