Dwight Howard: Ben Simmons is 'a young LeBron James'


Is the next LeBron James already in the NBA?

At least one of The King's former teammates think so.

Veteran center Dwight Howard, who recently signed with the Sixers after winning his first NBA title with James and the Lakers, sees potential greatness in one of his new Philly teammates.

The 34-year-old former All-Star is pumping up Sixers star Ben Simmons, an athletic dynamo and a budding star in the league, who most observers would say has yet to fully hit his stride since being picked first overall in 2016.

Despite much handwringing over what position Simmons will eventually settle into -- a debate that raged around James early in his career -- Howard sees a special player regardless of where he lines up.

“It’s a very real comparison, and I’ve been seeing this for a couple years,” Howard told reporters on Wednesday. “Ben Simmons is a young LeBron who’s developing an overall game."

It's not just Simmons' athletic talent that has Howard excited -- but also the 24-yera-old's disposition.

"I love the way he plays, I love how unselfish he is, and how mean he can be to other teams -- and that’s important," Howard said. "When you have your point guard coming down, dunking on people, flexing, getting big rebounds, talking trash, doing all those things, it drives you to want to be better.”

It was unclear where Simmons would play in Doc Rivers' lineup, but Sixers fans remain hopeful Simmons can take a step forward from All-Star to MVP-caliber superstar under the new coach.

Howard, a former No. 1 overall pick like Simmons, has bounced around in recent years before catching on with the Lakers -- his second stint in Los Angeles.

The seemingly overlooked signing paid off for the Lakers, with the veteran big man playing will in about 19 minutes per game as part of a lineup predicated on size.