Brett Brown says Ben Simmons is on a mission to win games and be an NBA All-Star.
“I’m going to do everything I can to help him,” the 76ers coach said Tuesday of his point guard. “What that means is utilizing him in a way that first benefits our team.”
The Sixers are doing that by posting up the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder, in addition to his duties of running a team. But the coach stressed that the team is growing him as a point guard, not just someone who is good at passing the ball. He knows that will come with time for the 22-year-old, who played power forward during his lone season at LSU.
Simmons headed into Tuesday’s matchup against the visiting Washington Wizards as the Sixers' fourth leading scorer at 16.4 points per game. He also ranked first in assists (7.9 per game) and second in rebounds (9.2). The 2017-18 rookie of the year was also second in the league in triple-doubles with six.
Brown said the Australian native has a durability that allows him to play at high level for high minutes and not have lapses. Simmons averaged 33.3 minutes per game.
“He is worthy of being an All-Star,” Brown said.
Tuesday was a busy day for Haywood Highsmith.
That morning, the 6-7 swingman finished with seven points in the Delaware Blue Coats' 119-108 victory over Raptors 905 at the Wells Fargo Center. Then he signed a two-way contract with the Sixers in the afternoon and joined the NBA team for the night game against the Wizards. The Blue Coats are the Sixers' G-League affiliate.
“This is crazy,” Highsmith said of signing a two-way deal. “I don’t even think it hit me. I don’t even know what to feel or think. I’m feeling a lot of excitement. But I don’t know what to say right now. Just a lot of feelings, a lot of thoughts.”
The Sixers wanted to sign him to a two-way deal since waiving Demetrius Jackson on Sunday. However, Highsmith and his representation weren’t sure whether they wanted to sign the Sixers' preferred two-year contract. But they ultimately decided to sign for two seasons instead of just one.
“We figured it was the best thing for me, to just keep developing with the Sixers," he said of accepting the two-year deal. “Hopefully, I will get up with them [on the 15-man roster] in the future.”
Last season, NBA rosters expanded from 15 to 17 players. The final two spots are for two-way players who can go between the NBA and the G-League.
NBA teams are allowed to bring two-way players up for a maximum of 45 days. After that, teams have to sign players to the regular 15-man roster or send them to the G-League. In the former case, the Sixers would have to release someone to make room for the player.