CHARLOTTE – Ben Simmons was always going to be a transcendent player. His father, Dave, wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“As soon as I was on the court, my dad told me to be creative and do what you want at a young age,” said Simmons, the 76ers’ 6-foot-10 point guard. “And he told me to dribble as soon as I got a rebound. That was just always on my mind. I never thought about being a big guy and going to the post.”
His father’s instructions have paid off for Simmons and the Sixers.
On Sunday, in his 61st career game, the 21-year-old became the third fastest player in NBA history reach 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, and 400 assists. Only Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson (43 games) and Magic Johnson (58) did it in fewer games.
Simmons headed into Tuesday’s road game with the Charlotte Hornets with 1,008 points, 467 rebounds, and 458 assists. His style of play is different from the way his 6-foot-9 father played 13 seasons in the Australian National Basketball League. Dave Simmons was a traditional post player.
“Him being a professional, he knew I was going to be athletic and tall,” said Simmons, who wears No. 25 because it was his father’s number. “To give me the biggest advantage was to tell me to dribble and do things that guards would do because there wasn’t anybody else doing that in Australia.”
But Simmons was known as a point forward in high school and during his one season at LSU. He would grab defensive rebounds, start fastbreaks and rack up assists. He became a full-time point guard months after the Sixers picked him first overall in the 2016 draft. Coach Brett Brown decided that Simmons was better suited for that position while he missed the entire 2016-17 campaign with a broken foot.
Thanks to his father’s coaching, that transition has been seamless.
“I watched Allen Iverson growing up and guys like that and Bron [LeBron James],” Simmons said. “So the way I play is just who I’ve watched.”
MCW could miss rest of season
Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williams, the NBA Rookie of the Year as a Sixer in 2013-14, might require season-ending shoulder surgery. As a result, he did not participate in Tuesday’s matchup against his original team. He sprained his left shoulder in the first half of Sunday’s game against Toronto and played the second half with a shoulder brace. Rookie Malik Monk will assume backup point-guard duties in his absence.