These days, it’s easy to criticize malcontent Sixers star Ben Simmons.
Not only has Simmons demanded to be traded, he was kicked out of practice and suspended for Wednesday’s season opener, and his status for Friday’s home opener against the Brooklyn Nets remains up in the air.
But five years ago, one scout appeared to paint a pretty accurate picture of who Simmons was, and who he might become.
Jonathan Givony, an ESPN NBA draft expert and the founder of DraftExpress.com, wrote a scouting report about Simmons for Yahoo Sports in 2016 that reads eerily true today, considering everything that’s happened in Philadelphia.
For starters, Givony attempted to spotlight Simmons’ apparent lack of competitiveness during games for LSU, writing that he has an apathy for contact and “delivering winning plays in crucial moments.”
“While many top picks succumb to the NBA star lifestyle and emerge as average competitors, it’s rare to see that at the collegiate level,” Givony wrote. “Here’s what NBA teams wonder: If Simmons cares so little about winning crucial college road games at Tennessee or Kentucky that could have delivered LSU to the NCAA tournament, how much will he consistently care about competing over a far more physically and mentally draining 82-game pro season?”
Givony also noticed Simmons’ “penchant for stat-mongering,” where he padded his numbers in blowouts. “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,” Givony wrote.
Former Australian Boomers star Chris Antsey was among those who shared Givony’s nearly six year-old scouting report of Simmons on social media.
During an interview on 94.1 WIP Thursday morning, Givony said he doesn’t blame the Sixers for drafting Simmons with the No. 1 overall pick. But he does fault the team for enabling Simmons’ behavior and not grooming him into a better basketball player and teammate.
“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 said.
The Sixers are off Thursday, and it’s unclear how Simmons will respond to the suspension. At least publicly, head coach Doc Rivers is still supporting Simmons, but the Sixers star was noticeably absent from a short promo shared by the team on social media Wednesday.
Joe Buck could end up calling 12 games in 14 days
If you tune into Fox at all over the next week, chances are you’re going to hear the voice of Joe Buck.
As he’s been doing every October for more than 20 years, Buck is pulling double duty — calling NFL games alongside Troy Aikman and acting as the voice of the World Series.
The schedule is nuts. Since Monday, he’s called the first three games of the American League championship series between the Astros and Red Sox alongside Hall of Famer John Smoltz, with Houston currently leading 3-1.
Thursday night, Buck will call Fox’s NFL matchup in Cleveland between the Broncos and the Browns. On Friday, he’ll fly back down to Houston to call Game 6 of Red Sox-Astros, and he’ll also call Game 7 on Saturday night, if necessary.
Fortunately for Buck, CBS will air the national late-afternoon NFL game on Sunday — Bears vs. Buccaneers — giving him a much-needed day off.
But it’s not much of a break for the veteran sportscaster. He’s what the following week for Buck looks like:
Tuesday: World Series game 1
Wednesday: World Series game 2
Thursday: Thursday Night Football (Packers-Cardinals)
Friday: World Series game 3
Saturday: World Series game 4
Sunday: World Series game 5 or an NFL game
“I try not to drink as much or at all during October because it feels like I’m flying every night,” the 52-year-old Buck said in an interview with InsideHook. “I’m going pretty much nonstop so I’ve got to try to get as much sleep and rest as I can. Drinking and staying up late and the like is kind of out of the window. I have to be smart about it, especially the older I get.”
New Sixers play-by-play voice Kate Scott made her regular season debut on NBC Sports Philadelphia Thursday night. The network still isn’t allowing its broadcasters to call games on the road, so she and color analyst Alaa Abdelnaby were working out of their studios at the Wells Fargo Center. Friday’s home opener is airing on ESPN, so the first game they’ll actually get to be courtside is Oct. 28′s matchup against the Detroit Pistons.
ESPN premiered its revamped NBA Countdown pregame show Wednesday, featuring Mike Greenberg, Michael Wilbon, Stephen A. Smith, and Jalen Rose. Greenberg replaced Maria Taylor, who signed with NBC after the NBA finals last season following a scandal involving Rachel Nichols’ leaked audio recording. The debut had some issues, including one moment when only Smith seemed aware the show was still on the air.
There was also this fantastic response to a sloppy tweet Smith sent out just before the show aired.
Fox Sports is close to winning away the UEFA European Championship television rights from ESPN, according to Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand. The Euros have aired on ESPN since 2008, and would add to Fox’s beefy soccer schedule over the next few years, which including next year’s FIFA World Cup, the Women’s World Cup in 2023, and the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2025.