Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum vs Ben Simmons: Who’s the more impactful player?

Home » NBA » Jayson Tatum vs Ben Simmons: Who’s the more impactful player?

One of the most interesting things to do as an NBA writer is comparing players. While it may seem tedious looking over stats and numbers it’s actually a fun exercise where you get to be a GM for a while.

A GM’s job mostly comes down to evaluating players to understand which players fit with each other. So this time around we will compare Jayson Tatum vs Ben Simmons. To properly compare them we need to start at the beginning.

Jayson Tatum vs Ben Simmons comparison

Jayson Tatum entered the NBA league in 2017 as the 3rd pick of the Boston Celtics. The circumstances by which he landed in Boston are quite murky but apparently, Josh Jackson turning down the Celtics workout pushed the Celtics toward Jayson Tatum. He on the other hand had a wish to go to Phoenix but ultimately he ended up in TD Garden. Tatum spent one year at Duke where he averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists per game. He was projected as a first-round pick but nobody quite thought he would be picked as high as 3rd.

Ben Simmons was picked first a year earlier in the 2016 draft. His draft position was never in question despite some draft analysts lobbying hard for Brandon Ingram. In the end, the Sixers chose Simmons and they made a mistake. In college, he led LSU in all major statistical categories. He averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists per game. It was not an easy start for Simmons, who suffered an injury forcing him to miss 4 months. He ended up missing the whole season so the 2017 season became his rookie season.

Tatum vs Simmons: Year by year development

Entering the NBA, Ben Simmons was touted as somewhat of a mini-LeBron James.


He was considered a player who could do it all and he delivered in his rookie season. He shot over 50% from the floor, averaging 15 points per game and 8 assists per game.

The Sixers star defended well and was named the Rookie of the Year. The only question mark in his game was his shooting, which was not good. He shot 11 threes in his rookie year and he made zero. In the next two years, he showed improvement in almost all facets of his game. His on-ball defence improved along with his team defence. His shot efficiency improved as well along with his free throw shooting. What did not improve was his shooting, as he still refused to take jump shots. That is something that has plagued him ever since he entered the league and even in this season it’s not much different. He has shot 9 threes so far, hitting 3.

Jayson Tatum, on the other hand, showed major improvement throughout his career so far. In the first two years of his career, Tatum averaged 14 points per game while shooting 46% from the field. Those numbers are not elite but he was not considered an elite scorer when he got drafted either. What hindered him was his overwhelming willingness to take midrange shots which in today’s analytical NBA is not something coaches like to see. Especially troubling were his long twos which he did not hit often.

After the 2018/19 season, he revamped his shot profile and it did wonders for his game. All those long twos became threes and that made his stats explode across the board. His scoring average jumped to 23 points per game while his efficiency remained similar at 46%. His development continued this year as well. He is at 25 points per game while shooting 45% from the field.


Tatum vs Simmons: Comparing the talent

While both of them are great players, their skill set and talent is quite different. Jayson Tatum is an elite offensive player who has a deep array of moves that can cook defenders one on one. He is the far better scorer mostly due to his ability to actually hit a shot.

He is essentially the typical two-way forward who becomes the best player on a championship-winning team, the prototype of the modern NBA player that has dominated the league for the past 15 years.

Simmons on the other hand is somewhat of an extreme specialist. He possesses certain skills that are elite but the overall package lacks the complete picture which would make him a dominating player. His speciality is his defence. He finished 4th in the DPOY award last season and he was already named to the 1st Team All Defence. His rare blend of size, length and athleticism make him a menace on the defensive end. He oftentimes guards the opposing team’s best player and the numbers he posts against those players are elite.

He is no slouch on offence though. Simmons is practically a triple-double threat the moment he steps onto the court. The only real issue is the jumper and that is a huge issue in the playoffs. When the defence shrinks and the paint becomes tight a player who can’t hit a jumper just becomes predictable and easy to guard.

Tatum vs Simmons: Value to a team

Both of these players are extremely valuable to their respective teams. Philadelphia would not be one of the best teams in the league without Simmons. Much has been said about the talent of Joel Embiid but even without Embiid, the Sixers would be a playoff team. Elite defence is hard to find in 2021 especially as most elite defenders present a liability on offence. Simmons is far from a liability but he has a very big flaw in his game.

On the other hand, we have Tatum, an elite scorer who can score in any way he wants. He is a good athlete who can drive to the basket, he can create his own shot and he hits it at a decent clip. Big moments don’t scare him and he performs well when it matters. While not elite on defence he is good enough to be a plus on that side as well. His improvement over the years has shown his willingness to work which should take his game to even higher heights.

Simmons showed reluctance to improve his shooting. It’s not clear whether he is working on it actively or not, but so far he has shown no improvement in that area.

Compared to Tatum, he is also much more closer to the player he was when he entered the league. That might be worrying for a player whose potential is sky-high.

In terms of value to the team, Tatum is more valuable simply because he can adapt to any given system. His skill set is suited for any type of offence and defence. For Simmons, that is not the case as he can only be successful in a certain type of system. The team needs to build a certain way for him to succeed which is not the case for Tatum.

Tatum vs Simmons: Who’s the better player?

The bottom line is that both players are great.

Tatum is the more complete player at the moment because he offers you value on both sides of the ball.

Simmons offers the same amount of skill but the balance is not quite there. He will give you elite defence but on offence, he is limited due to his unwillingness to shoot.

For that reason, he requires a certain type of roster construction to truly maximize his potential on offence. He can’t play with everyone and that is something that bothers front offices league-wide. Tatum can play with any player due to his balanced skillset. For the fans, it mostly comes to Tatum’s superiority on offence as the deciding factor.

[spreaker type=player resource=”show_id=4112709″ width=”100%” height=”200px” theme=”light” playlist=”false” playlist-continuous=”false” autoplay=”false” live-autoplay=”false” chapters-image=”true” episode-image-position=”right” hide-logo=”false” hide-likes=”false” hide-comments=”false” hide-sharing=”false” hide-download=”true”]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *