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Why hasn’t Ben Simmons’ game gotten much better this season?

There is room for improvement for the second-year player

I haven’t been surprised that the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons has produced similar stats to his Rookie of the Year numbers from last year.

Simmons maintains he worked on his basketball game last summer. He has said he wouldn’t be satisfied with again averaging 15 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, roughly his current stats. He says he wants to be an All-Star. And LeBron James, now of the Los Angeles Lakers, says that Simmons has the potential to be better than him, the current king of the NBA.

That’s heady stuff for a man just 22 and in his second year playing in the NBA. In the near term, he has to cut down on his turnovers and boost his free throw percentage. For most of this season, he’s shot about 60 percent from the foul line. That’s far too low for a point guard, especially one who’d be expected to have the ball in his hands in late-game clutch situations. He’s already one of the NBA’s most creative and exciting players, and he’s athletic and smart enough to become one of the best defenders too. But will he?

As Simmons continues to develop, he can learn a thing or two from Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors. The backup guard doesn’t shoot the 3-point shot, but he employs a deft and consistent midrange game from 12 to 17 feet out. Simmons could do that too.

In nearly every NBA game, Simmons appears to see something new and different on the court. He’s writing and rewriting his NBA possibilities.

We will watch the 6-foot-10 Australian as he goes. Who knows how far his talent, skill and determination will take him and his teams?

Perhaps Simmons will become a perennial All-Star, a player capable of leading his team to a championship each year: a true heir to James.

A graduate of Hampton University, Jeff Rivers worked for Ebony, HBO and three daily newspapers, winning multiple awards for his columns. Jeff and his wife live in New Jersey and have two children, a son Marc and a daughter Lauren.