It still makes me chuckle that we could avoid questions like this if Philly took Tatum instead of Fultz but they didn’t. Know Tatum is an emerging star and since leaving Philly Fultz has shown he can actually play basketball. We’re not here to discuss mishaps made in the draft, no we’re here to talk about who you would rather start a team with. I think this is going to be a lot closer than Philly fans would like to think it is.
First factor that we’re going to look at is age, Ben is turning 24 this year and Tatum has already turned 22. Both very young but it is worth noting that as they get older, assuming their games stay relatively the same, Simmons style isn’t going to be easy on an older body.
We’ll be looking at just their stats through their first 3 seasons played. Ben didn’t play his first season so of course we won’t use that. (Using seasons 2017-2020). Surprisingly close amount of games played. Simmons with 214 and Tatum at 218, for someone who is considered somewhat injury prone he looks pretty durable to me. The stats are pretty close for the most part as well. Tatum: 17.2 PPG, 5.9 REB, 2.2 AST, 1.7 Turnovers, shooting 82.7% from the line, 45.6% FG and 39.9% from 3. All very good numbers for a guy three years in the league, other than his PPG which is up this season most of these are pretty similar. Simmons: 16.4 PPG, 8.3 REB, 8 AST, 3.5 Turnovers, shooting 59.4% from the line, 56.1% FG and 8.7% from 3. Again, all very good numbers and kind of what you expect from Simmons. The reason you expect that is because in his 3 years of playing he has been pretty much the same exact player statistically across the board. A good and a bad thing. He’s consistent, you know what you’re going to get and that’s great. With that being said he isn’t improving, statistically. Not great.
Scoring is obviously going to favor Tatum who has 15 30+ point games to Simmons 5. Tatum also has two 41 Point games while Simmons career high is 34. You do need points to win games. With only 4 more games played Tatum has 200 more points, 400 less turnovers. On the flip side Simmons has almost 1,300 more assists, almost 500 more rebounds, 400 less shots with a higher shooting % but even with having less games played he has 400 more minutes played. Brett Brown running that man into the ground.
Obviously these are two great, young players who hopefully will continue to grow and improve but there is a decision that has to be made. I think as of today, Simmons is the better overall player. Him not really improving in 3 years is concerning to say the least. I also think since 2020 started Tatum was playing out of his mind, if that is just his norm than that player is going to be better than Ben by probably next season. I think because of their play style Tatum will be more useful towards the latter part of their careers as well.
With all of that being said if I was starting a team from scratch the player I’d start with is Simmons. His type of consistency and defensive presence is essential to a team and something that not a lot of guys have. You can get scoring from other places and at this exact moment in time Tatums only edge that he has on Simmons is his scoring and it’s not like Ben doesn’t score either.