SALT LAKE CITY – Not even 76ers coach Brett Brown knew what he had in Ben Simmons.
Brown always envisioned Simmons as his point guard despite his 6-foot-10 stature after selecting him with the first overall pick of the 2016 draft. But …
“I didn’t realize that he was going to be as gifted athletically, immediately,” Brown said.
Simmons missed all of last season after breaking his right foot. Brown saw the 21-year-old’s athleticism during what amounted to a redshirt season at the team’s practice facility. But he didn’t know how it would translate in games.
“I see it clearly now,” the coach sad. “You wished and you hoped, but you didn’t know. … Now, I know.”
Simmons took averages of 18 points, 9.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.56 steals into Tuesday’s matchup against the Utah Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Center.
The overwhelming favorite to win rookie of the year joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to record at least two triple-doubles in their first nine career games. Robertson recorded four in that span for the Cincinnati Royals during the 1960-61 season.
Simmons needs to become a more consistent outside shooter. However, he has been a matchup problem for opposing teams. He’s too big for point guards to defend and too athletic for forwards to keep up with.
Brown said it’s “quite special” to see Simmons on the court after the time they spent together studying the NBA game.
“The position that we are playing him, the success that he’s having … the realization is this organization has something very unique we hope for a very long time,” Brown said.
Bayless out indefinitely
There’s some good and bad news surrounding Jerryd Bayless’ injured left wrist.
The good news is that the injury is not related to the torn ligaments in the same wrist that cut last season short for the Sixers guard. The bad news is that he’s out indefinitely because the swelling has not gone down. He bruised the wrist in Friday’s game.
Bayless missed Tuesday’s game and will sit out Thursday in Sacramento. The team will evaluate him before Saturday’s road matchup against the Golden State Warriors.
“After that, we can talk more candidly,” Brown said. “Right now, we are sort of just playing it by ear. … Right now, to stamp off on how soon he’ll be available, we don’t know that yet.”
The 29-year-old was hurt while attempting to fight through a screen Friday against the Pacers. X-rays after the game were negative, but his discomfort continued, leading to MRI and CT scans on Monday.
“It could be something old,” said Bayless, who also had a left-wrist injury in high school. “But it’s not even [that]. It just hurts from when I fell. I fell directly on it, and my wrist swelled up from that.”
The 10-year veteran hopes to return soon but does not want to give a definite timeline.
Bayless had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his wrist on Dec. 15, ending his 2016-17 campaign. He is averaging 11 points this season.
Two-way player James Michael McAdoo is scheduled to rejoin the Sixers in time for Saturday’s matchup with the Warriors. That’s because Golden State has something special planned for the power forward, who played there for the last three seasons. The defending NBA-champion Warriors are expected to present McAdoo with his championship ring.
He’ll split time this season with the Sixers and their G League team, the Delaware 87ers.