LeBron James Dismisses Ben Simmons Comparisons: 'I Am Who I Am'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 27, 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James gives instructions to players in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

LeBron James downplayed the comparison being made between him and Ben Simmons ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers' matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday evening.

"That's for you guys (in the media)," James said, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. "You guys do that comparison stuff. I think Ben is his own makeup of speed, power, quickness, competitive basketball and being able [to] have a feel for the game. You know, Ben is Ben. And I am who I am. And so on and so on. So you guys kind of do that comparison stuff."

He also dismissed any discussions about his possible one-on-one matchup with Simmons in the contest.

"It's not about me vs. Ben. It's about the Cavs vs. the 76ers and we want to continue to play good ball," he noted. "They've been playing good ball, especially at home. So it's not about me versus him at all."

The matchup between the pair may be put on hold anyway, as Simmons is questionable for Monday night's game, though he's expected to play, according to Keith Pompey of Philly.com.

The similarities between James and Simmons are hard to ignore, however. Both are big, athletic and strong players who are excellent at getting to the basket and finishing in a number of unique ways. Both are superb facilitators for their teammates and incredibly dangerous in transition. And each player causes matchup nightmares for opponents.

There are differences, too. Simmons operates as the Sixers point guard, whereas James has always paired with more traditional point guards throughout his career. And while James has developed his perimeter shot and is a weapon from beyond the arc, Simmons hasn't even attempted a true three-pointer this season (all seven of his registered attempts have been on late-quarter heaves from beyond half-court).

But the overall impact of both players is certainly reflected in the stats. James is averaging 28.5 points, 8.6 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers, willing the team to a 12-7 record this year. Simmons is posting a more modest but nonetheless impressive 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per contest, absurd numbers for a rookie.

"Yeah, look at the stat line," Dwyane Wade said when asked if he sees the similarities between James and Simmons, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. "A guy that does multiple things on the floor. A big guard, exciting. So definitely (see similarities)."

The Sixers are 11-7 on the season despite playing the NBA's toughest schedule, per Sean Forman of Sports Reference, a reminder of just how advanced players like Simmons and Joel Embiid are in the early stages of their careers. Even Simmons has acknowledged that the game has slowed down for him quicker than he expected.

"I didn't think it would come this quickly for me to get this comfortable and to improve every game, but it did," Simmons told David Aldridge of NBA.com. "Overall I've felt like every game I've been able to score, or get to the rim, or get shots when I want, and feel comfortable."

Just like James.


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