He ranks second among 2017–18 rookies in scoring, behind only Mitchell, and he and Lonzo Ball join Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies ever to record at least seven rebounds and seven assists per game.
Joel Embiid’s outside shot, currently hitting at 32 percent on 3.4 attempts per game, might prove the key to Philadelphia’s spring success; an inverted offense with the nominal 5 spotting up and the nominal 1 shooting exclusively in the paint sounds odd, but talent trumps positional orthodoxy.
The closest guard is Ish Smith (7.9 percent); the next-closest guard is another notoriously 3-avoidant point man, Elfrid Payton (14.3 percent), who is still taking 3s at more than 10 times the rate as Simmons is.
He is a paradox in the modern NBA, a player who in some respects would fit better in the ’80s, but who also runs the point despite being listed at the same height as, and 15 to 20 pounds heavier than, Moses Malone and Kevin McHale.
Is James, on the precipice of his mid-30s, with more than 50,000 NBA minutes already logged, willing to embark on another experiment as he chases Michael Jordan’s legacy?