LAS VEGAS -- There's times where you can watch Ben Simmons and wonder how he was the first overall pick last month. And then there's times when you watch him and wonder if he could win an MVP before his career is over. All that's for certain is you want Simmons on your team.
That's the gamble Philadelphia made by selected him, doubling down on the player with the highest ceiling and trusting their front office to figure out the front court jumble. Brandon Ingram could have been a much easier fit, with a stronger off ball game that doesn't necessitate the ball in his hands at all times. But the 76ers liked Simmons better, so here he is.
Simmons had another one of his weird, albatross stat lines in Philadelphia's final game on Friday, scoring 15 points on 5-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds, six assists and six turnovers. I watched Simmons warm up, and it's the strangest thing. Most players take set jumpers, as did Simmons, who attempted a handful in the corners. But he also shot Kobe fadeaways from the short baseline corner, wild floaters from the free throw line as he faded away, and practiced entering the post. Warm ups don't mean anything, of course, but I thought the detail was telling. Simmons' warm ups are as strange as his game.
Simmons chooses not to shoot, and in many ways, that's a smart decision. He's obviously not a good shooter, and he's so athletic, with a broad 6'10 frame that he has exact control over, that he'll get to the rim and make the right passes as frequently as he needs to. He'll need to shoot, of course, to meet the lofty expectations that come with being a number one pick. But there's so many incredible things he can do even without wanting to shoot jumpers, like this incredible pass.
Philadelphia needs to deal Jahlil Okafor, for one. There's a growing front court logjam with Simmons, Okafor, Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. There's also 2014 selection Dario Saric coming over from Europe, and his skillset is troublesomely similar to Simmons' as a tall forward with excellent point skills. Those two may also be contradictory if they reach their full potential.
But the 76ers have next season to figure it out. Not everyone fits in, but there's a lot of talent and excitement for the very young team.
Play of the night
Since we already used the Simmons pass, here's a nice, solid, fundamental pick-and-roll run by Brandon Ingram to balance things out.
2 things from Friday
Buddy Hield never turned it on
There was really only two quarters were Buddy was Buddy, dropping 17 points in a third quarter and 12 in a fourth. Beyond that, Hield missed a ton of shots all summer league, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting in his final game. There were already concerns about the quality of shots he can create against NBA defenders, and this only amplifies them. But summer league isn't a harbinger of anything, and a lot of the shots were makeable and open ones that Hield just missed. There's no reason to be overly concerned about that. We know he can make them.
Jonathan Gibson turned summer league into a contract
The scoring guard with the Mavericks team blew up for 30 points in the team's first game and never slowed down, dropping in shot after shot throughout his time in Las Vegas. He's already 28, playing internationally for a while after graduating from New Mexico State, but his 42 points per game (yes, 42) in the Chinese Basketball Association last season obviously pops out. Dallas threw a partially guaranteed three-year deal at him about a couple days ago, one he earned by brashly shooting the ball all over the court. If he makes the team out of training camp, his role will likely be that of a deep reserve who can come into games where Dallas needs offense and pop off some attempts from behind the arc. His play is proof that summer league definitely matters.
D-League Select 88, Pelicans 76
Hawks 89, Grizzlies 79
76ers 74, Heat 66
Mavericks 80, Warriors 74
Jazz 92, Lakers 88
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