With 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons poised to make his NBA debut this season, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers, who will boast a young core including Joel Embiid, 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric, newcomer J.J. Redick and young role players.
At 6’10”, Simmons projects to be one of the most dynamic players in the NBA since he will most likely assume the point guard role. Therefore, expect some big numbers across the board for the rookie right out of the gates.
Here’s what 13-year NBA veteran Amir Johnson had to say about Simmons after watching him play up close during a series of recent voluntary workouts.
“I truly believe definitely Ben is going to be the future of this league coming down the road,” Johnson told Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com on Thursday. “He’s been great.”
He explained why he had such high praise for the youngster.
“The stuff I’ve seen him do just training, it almost seems like it’s not fair, man,” said Johnson. “You get a guard to switch on him, you get a big to switch on him, and he’s just an unbelievable athlete, unbelievable scorer, and an unbelievable passer. He can do it all.”
Veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless echoed Johnson’s sentiments.
“Ben is on the cusp of really figuring it out,” Bayless told Seltzer. “I think Ben is young, still, and developing, but...he’s really put in the time every day, and I think he’s going to be really good.”
Head coach Brett Brown couldn’t be more excited about watching Simmons take the court this fall.
“When people see his breakaway speed from baseline to baseline and his ability to react, they’re going to say, ‘That is an A-plus athlete,’ ” Brown told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com. “His vision of trying to make people better and seeing things happen a little bit before most others see it is going to surprise people. I think most importantly out of all of it, I feel like he has a chance to be an elite multi-purpose defensive player.”
The 21-year-old put up outstanding numbers at LSU during his one-and-done collegiate season in 2015-2016, averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest. He then posted 10.8 points, 7.7 boards and 5.5 dimes per game for the Sixers last year’s Summer League before suffering his right foot injury.
What kind of impact he makes this season in Philly remains to be seen, but it looks like he will be thrust into a major role immediately. The fans who have “trusted the process” for the last few seasons will finally see the end product.