After ‘frustrating’ wait, Simmons eager to show his stuff
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 20, 2017 09:22 AM
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) goes to the basket against Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Ben Simmons, the 2016 number one overall pick, spent what should have been his rookie season on the shelf, the result of a bone fracture in his right foot, which occurred in the last scrimmage of training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fans, of course, were frustrated, especially after a tantalizing preseason where Simmons’ passing abilities were on full display.
But just as equally frustrated was Simmons himself.
In a conference call with global media, Simmons said that the experience was “tough. At the time, I was frustrated.
“I had my moments where it was just hard for me walking in every day and knowing I wasn’t going to step on the court. But for me, I just tried to take advantage of not actually playing and just trying to learn as much as I could…and then obviously taking care of my body. I feel like I’m at the stage now where I just want to take advantage of everything that I’ve put in and all the work I’ve put in now.”
Simmons’ regular season debut was a solid one. In 35 minutes on the court, he put up 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block, versus just one turnover. The 76ers did lose though, 120-115, against the Washington Wizards.
“I just make sure I push the ball,” Simmons said of that first game. “If they give me a gap, that’s when I usually attack or try to make my own space going down the floor.
“Usually if I get a bigger guy on me, I try to take him to the hole. I just know he can’t really catch up or keep up with me. Just picking the time that I want to attack and knowing when I should attack is definitely one of those things I look at.”
Simmons added, “There’s a lot of positives that came from last night. We played one of the top teams in the East, that will be one of the top teams, so for us, we’ve just got to learn from the mistakes we made….For me, with the game I had, I feel like I could have played a lot better. I can improve on a lot of things I wanted to improve on. And I think once I get there, it’s going to be fun.”
At 6’10”, Simmons occupies an unusual niche in the NBA, a tall guy running the show for his team. It’s a place carved out by luminaries like Magic Johnson, LeBron James, and Draymond Green. The 21-year-old isn’t biting on such comparisons just yet though, saying, “Honestly for me, I just play. I have a lot to prove just to myself where I can go. But I’m not worried about people trying to boost my head or anything like that.
“[But] I feel like that’s the position I can help the team most with just because of my size and playmaking ability….It’s not just one thing I try to focus on. It’s not just scoring or rebounds or assists. I just try to focus on everything and helping the team win, no matter if it’s a play that counts toward the stats or if it doesn’t. I just want to be in the best position the team needs me to win.”
Up next for the 76ers are the Boston Celtics, with both sides eager to notch their first win of the young 2017-18 season. The Aussie Simmons will be matched up against one of his countrymen, Kyrie Irving, and the young gun is looking forward to it. “When you get a guard switched on to me, it’s tough to not post him up and then not get the ball in there,” said Simmons. “But at the same time, you’re playing guys who are All-Stars - Kyrie, John [Wall], and they’re great players. So I have a lot to learn from just watching them, and how they play, which is great for me.”