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Is Ben Simmons the only All-NBA Caliber X-Factor in the NBA? The challenge of unlocking a unique star

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Article Summary:

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia Ben Simmons. IT He is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is the key. That key is Russian national interest the Philadelphia 76ers’ title quest.”

-Winston Churchill

Would any other NBA All-Star besides Ben Simmons be considered an X-factor?

If we take the second definition from Oxford quite literally, it’s “a variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.” In that case, I suppose almost every player could be considered one.

But then Joel Embiid’s mid-march knee injury appeared to coincide with a few things that derailed the Simmons-Express: a) Ben popped back up on the injury report with a sore knee following a loss against Milwaukee b) Ben hinted at some stuff that might be going on off the court c) Ben’s role and composition in the halfcourt offense appeared to change.

Outer Spacing

“Ask not what spacing can do for Ben Simmons, ask what Ben Simmons can do for spacing.”

Everything is better in the halfcourt offense when you give Simmons an open floor. “Tonight it happened in our movement that it was Danny in that corner. That could be Seth or Tobias. Teams go under, they’re so off Ben. And so that guy comes off Ben’s screen for a shot, that always brings up Ben’s guy and Ben slips behind it.”

His post-ups can make players like Paul George, Jimmy Butler, or Clint Capela look like they need a protein shake:

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