Being compared to an all-time great brings on a lot of pressure and expectations that many will not be able to live up to. The search for “the next LeBron James” just might be over with Sixers rookie Ben Simmons practically being handed the title by the man who he is being compared to.

“I don't mind it,” James said early this season about the comparisons. “Someone's going to be compared to someone all the time, and I don't mind him being compared to me. People not only recognizing what he does on the floor, but he's a great kid, too. He has a great family, great support system, and that's why he's able to do what he [does] on the floor.”

With a game similar to his predecessor’s, James isn’t the only one who sees the similarities between the two players. Recently, we saw a steal and fastbreak dunk from Simmons that was a mirror-image of James’ signature play over the years.

If the comparisons are already unfair for the rookie, Simmons received the ultimate compliment and even greater pressure from the King himself.

4. Greater than the King?

In an article written by Lee Jenkins in the  December 4, 2017, issue of Sports Illustrated, James acknowledged Simmons’ potential well before he took the floor for his NBA debut, talking to the young talent at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas when he was just 17.

“You have an opportunity,” James told Simmons, “to be better than me. But you can’t skip steps. You have to do the work.” Those words helped sustain [Simmons] when he stumbled at LSU and helped fuel him as he rehabbed in Philadelphia. “Is this really going to happen?” he asked himself. He knew, even if others wavered, that it would. Because LeBron said so, and for a prospect of Simmons’s vintage, no endorsement means more. “Part of his greatness,” Simmons says, “is that he wants others to be just as great.”

Rarely has greatness of this magnitude been expected of a rookie, much less one who wasn’t even drafted yet when Simmons heard these words of encouragement.

In his rookie year in 2003-04, James averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.9 steals. Simmons, on the other hand, is currently averaging 15.8 points, 8.0 assists, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.7 steals, stats that could lead to him being named as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.

Ben Simmons
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At this point, Simmons is already passing and rebounding the ball better than James did in his rookie season. In fact, Simmons is better in both categories than almost any version of LeBron in his first go-round with the Cavaliers. As good as he is as a passer, James never averaged eight assists or more until his seventh season in the league. And, it wasn’t until his 10th season that James averaged at least eight rebounds a game.

It helps that the Louisiana State University product by way of Australia is a few inches taller than the Cavaliers forward. He entered the league at 6-foot-10, but according to Simmons, he grew two more inches last year, big enough to be a full-sized center at seven feet tall.

At that size, Simmons is an anomaly as the Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard. Before he came along, Magic Johnson was the biggest playmaker in league history at 6-foot-9. James is 6-foot-8, and though he’s listed as a small forward, he is definitely the Cavs’ point guard.

Ben Simmons
Winslow Townson/The Associated Press

Simmons’ passing ability is such that he is able to find the open man as well as the 15-year veteran. He’s currently tied with Houston Rockets star point guard Chris Paul for fourth place in assists per game. It’s a talent that can be honed with more experience as he becomes more aware of plays before they happen, something that James developed over the years.

As a rebounder, Simmons is getting better and better as the months pass. He has a nose for where the ball is headed after a shot is taken to secure the rebound away from opponents. He’s already light years away from James in this category, and he is likely going to get better at it. It’s not a far-fetched idea to imagine Simmons as one of the league’s top rebounders in the next few seasons.

The 21-year old already surpassed Magic Johnson’s seven triple-doubles to place second behind Oscar Robertson, who had 26 as a rookie. Simmons has 11 triple-doubles so far and may add to that number before the season is over. Over his last 10 games, he is averaging 12.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 10.8 assists a night.

Ben Simmons
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

James has 71 triple-doubles to his name, but it wasn’t until last year when he started racking them up routinely. He had 13 last year and 16 this year. That’s 41% of his career total. Simmons, however, has 10 in just his first season alone, and it's not even over yet. If he ever averages a minimum of 10 triples-doubles a year for the next 10 years, he’ll rank either fifth or sixth most in league history.

The only thing that’s kept Simmons from recording more triple-doubles is his scoring ability, or his lack of it.

And that’s where James has him beat.

3. Scorer’s Mentality

In the aforementioned 10 straight games where he averaged a triple-double, Simmons missed two of them when he only scored six against the Orlando Magic and seven versus the Denver Nuggets.

As much as James is a gifted passer, he’s equally talented as a scorer. Just this year, he recorded 30,000 points for his career, just the seventh player to accomplish the feat. On Friday, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the 4-time MVP will pass Michael Jordan for the most consecutive games scoring in double-figures at 867 games.

LeBron James
Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports

If Simmons wants to be better than James, he needs to learn how to shoot the rock better beyond the safety of just a few feet from the basket. He hasn’t even taken a legitimate three-point shot yet, but he’s 0-for-11 on attempts from beyond the arc because of half-court and full-court heaves at the end of quarters.

Based on how he plays, Simmons doesn’t seem to be the type who wants to be a big-time scorer. He’s more of a facilitator than James has ever been and that’s where he will likely distinguish himself from his idol.

Even so, he has to learn how to shoot from the outside to keep defenses honest and to open up the driving lanes for himself and his teammates.

“I think I have to start taking it more for the team to get better,” Simmons said according to Keith Pompey of “I think it will help our team.”

Ben Simmons, LeBron James
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But, he recognizes that he needs to become comfortable in taking those shots in game time situations.

“And getting comfortable takes me being uncomfortable,” he said.

His highest scoring game this season is 32 points versus the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 22. Simmons’ only other 30-point game came against the Washington Wizards nearly three months before. He’s only had 16 games with 20 or more points, and most of these were in the low 20’s.

If he develops his shooting to the point where he becomes a scoring threat like James, Simmons can have a career similar to the Cavaliers forward. But, if there’s a player who he can hope to be like, it’s not James.

It’s Johnson.

Magic Johnson
Dick Raphael/GettyImages

Magic didn’t have LeBron’s scoring ability but he could score when needed. Consider his 42-point scoring performance in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals, when the rookie led the Los Angeles Lakers to the championship while they were missing the services of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Soon, Magic would develop a respectable jump shot, one that opponents learned to respect because he could knock them down with consistency.

The Sixers and their fans hope Simmons can follow in Magic’s footsteps in that regard.

2. Winning Championships

If there’s anything Simmons should learn from Johnson and James, it’s their ability to make their teammates better. Magic did it on the way to winning five championships while James has three titles so far.

Simmons has to take the responsibility of leading the Sixers to a handful of titles during his career. To be one of the greats, there’s no other place to showcase that greatness than in the Finals.

Right now, the Sixers are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference and they have homecourt advantage in the playoffs if the season ended today. If they get to the second-round of the playoffs this year, expectations will be high. No one expects them to win a championship in 2018, but next year, and the year after, it's another story.

1. Brotherhood

Simmons looks at James as a big brother, someone who believes in him and wants him to succeed.

“He gives me a lot of advice if I ever need it,” he told ESPN. “He looks out for me, and he's one of those people you have to have as a mentor because he's one of the best players in the world.”

Ben Simmons, LeBron James
Instagram/LeBron James

Simmons has greatness written all over him. Many expect him to be one of the best players in the league, if he isn’t already. And if he works hard, he may even surpass his mentor when his career is over, just the way James predicted it.