If the career of Lionel Simmons was represented by a stock, it would be the tale of one that got off to a smoking-hot start only to be derailed, sputtering out of control into the abyss in the process.
The seventh overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft from La Salle University, Simmons looked like a budding star right from the get-go, a guy who would only improve and who could just maybe become one of the best in the game.
Despite standing just 6-foot-7 and weighing around 210 pounds, Simmons’ primary area of work was in the post, where he’d back his opponents down and cook them with a nice fadeaway touch on the baseline.
He could run the floor in transition and even lead the break with solid handles and a high IQ. Simmons didn’t provide some of the more gaudier numbers in the league at the time, but he sprinkled in a little bit of everything at the offensive end, making him a high-impact player.
Unfortunately, the L-Train was bitten by the injury bug hard after only four seasons in the league. His production, minutes and games played would all decrease significantly over the next few years, and following the 1996-97 season, he called it quits, unable to play due to the pain he was in day after day.
When it comes to guys like Yao Ming and Grant Hill, the NBA is left to wonder what would be of their careers had injuries not plagued them. Lionel Simmons didn’t have the fanfare surrounding him as those two and others did, but his offensive gifts were nothing to pass off. Had he maintained a reasonable bill of health, he likely could’ve done some real damage to the rest of the association.