Some people saw it after his brief stint at LSU. Some saw it from the start of his NBA career. For others, it wasn't clear until the infamous non-dunk in Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks. But by now, it has become clear to pretty much every Philadelphia 76ers fan that Ben Simmons is lacking in the "really wanting to win" department and is seemingly more focused on himself.
Someone who saw that from the very, very beginning — we're talking about back when Simmons was just 15 years old — is NBA Draft analyst Jonathan Givony, whose scouting report from five-and-a-half years ago has a ton of eyebrow-raising notes and observations, including:
— "Simmons has displayed an apathy for defense, contact and delivering winning plays in crucial moments."
— "At times, it appears he only passes when guaranteed an assist and chases home-run plays at inopportune times in search of a highlight. Simmons seems to value those things over winning."
— "Those who know him best say he needs things to revolve around him on and off the court and that he's often been close-minded to coaching or instruction."
So, as expected, everything that we're seeing today is of little surprise to Givony, who explained more Angelo Cataldi and The Morning Team on 94WIP on Thursday morning.
"This has always been who Ben Simmons is. I started watching him when he was 15 years old and this is what has followed him, and we kind of swept this under the rug," Givony said. "This is what we do. We focused on the highlights and the glitz and the glamour and, to an extent, this is our fault, because we told Ben Simmons that winning doesn't matter and unfortunately, at some point, this is always gonna catch up to you, and it did. And I mean, he told us in his own words, he just wants to go somewhere where everything's about him, and he can make mistakes and all the mistakes will be swept under the rug, and this is what we're seeing now."
However — and you can kind of get a hint of this with his above explanation — Givony is not ready to put the entirety of the blame on Simmons. This is our fault, he argues, for enabling such a behavior and "me first" mentality to go on without consequence or accountability. While Australian basketball is all about the team, as Givony explains, the American way of life is centered much more around stardom, individual stats and highlights, and the fame and fortune of the best around. Which style of play do you think was more appealing to Simmons? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
"What's important to him is fame and looking cool, that's what he's seeking. Stats, that's what gets you noticed and in the regular NBA season, that's what gets you on SportsCenter," Givony said. "They very rarely mention if you won or lost the game at the end of your highlight reel or YouTube video or whatever minute-long thing they clip off on Twitter or Instagram... we've taught him that that's what matters, and that's how he's behaving now. To an extent, this is on us, too!
"They (the Sixers) were aware of all of this, but they thought that they could fix it. NBA teams, I mean, that's what they do."
Hindsight is 2020, but the 76ers would likely be much happier had they selected someone like Jaylen Brown or Jamal Murray in the draft. Givony, however, doesn't think they made the wrong pick, per se.
"...I don't blame them for drafting him, I blame them for not holding him accountable once he got there, never forcing him to shoot, and never putting him on the bench when he acted the way that he did, like a prima donna," Givony explained. "...And they had an entire year. He sat out his whole rookie season — that's the time where you fix his shot, where you say, hey, let's experiment with shooting with the other hand. We can work on your game.
"And unfortunately they didn't, and now the Philadelphia 76ers are in the situation they're in today."