The Palestra turned into Ben Simmons’ personal playpen by the end of the 76ers’ “Blue x White” scrimmage on Sunday.
He showed the packed house why the Sixers rave over his quickness. The 6-foot-10, 230-pound point guard also backed up teammates’ claim that he gets to the rim at ease. And Simmons displayed an ability to take over in the clutch against those same teammates.
He scored 14 of his 23 points in the third and final session of the intrasquad scrimmage. His Blue squad ultimately lost by two points after J.J. Redick’s three-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim and backboard.
In addition to his 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting, Simmons had around five assists, five turnovers and four rebounds.
On this day, the 2016 first overall pick showed he’s much more than an exceptional passer.
Simmons missed the entire 2016-17 season with a Jones fracture in his right foot suffered during training camp a year ago. And Simmons was more a facilitator in the 2016 Utah Jazz and NBA summer leagues.
“People get caught up in the looks of the passes,” Simmons said of being more than an assist-maker. “It looks nice, but at the end of the day, I know how to get to the rim and score and finish.
“And I feel like I know how to open a lot of doors for other players for them to score, too.”
Furkan Korkmaz tried to show he’s capable of scoring for the Sixers. The rookie swingman is expected to spend some time with the Delaware 87ers this season. However, he might make the team at least reconsider things if can duplicate Sunday’s performance in preseason games.
Korkmaz scored 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting for the White team. He made four of five three-pointers. Meanwhile, first overall pick Markelle Fultz finished with 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting while splitting time with the White and Blue teams.
Fultz began the scrimmage on the White team starting opposite Simmons at point guard. He had some success doing that.
“We are going to make each other better,” Fultz said. “That’s what the team needs from both of us, just pushing the ball.
“We got to be competitive in order for both of us to get better. I had fun. I’m pretty sure he did, too.”
The rookie out of the University of Washington scored six points on 2-for-2 shooting in the first period. One of his baskets came on a spin move against Simmons.
“Yeah, first quarter, we had to get a little warm,” said Simmons, who later returned the favor. “That’s his quarter, for sure. But the [final period] was mine.”
The two actually went at each other until they were paired together in the third period.
“That was one of the things that you really wanted to get out of [the scrimmage],” coach Brett Brown said. “Let’s let those two go at it. … Watching those two young guys go at it was a real treat for the crowd.”
Simmons says it’s fun, yet scary to play alongside Fultz.
“Once he has the ball, I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Simmons said.
So he tries to create space, cut and get open for Fultz. But Simmons is learning Fultz can create space for himself.
“He can really get to the rim, score himself and really find teammates,” Simmons said.
Joel Embiid and Timothe’ Luwawu-Cabarrot did not participate in the scrimmage. Luwawu-Cabarrot (right knee patellar tendinitis) did, however, take part in the drills before the scrimmage. Embiid is recovering from March surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.