NBA: 76ers reveal plans for top pick Ben Simmons

By Jai Bednall

Ben Simmons poses for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the top pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in June. Photo / AP
Ben Simmons poses for a photo with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the top pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in June. Photo / AP

The NBA season is just over a month away and the Philadelphia 76ers can't wait to unveil their shiny new toy, Australian No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons.

Capable of playing a number of positions on the court, much of the discussion around the 20-year-old has centred on how he will be used by coach Brett Brown.

The 76ers mentor lifted the lid on this topic during a recent round of interviews with the Philadelphia media, revealing Simmons is likely to spend the bulk of his minutes at power forward - rather than point guard.

"There are a few questions that aren't going to go away and that's one of them," said Brown, when asked if he planned on using Simmons as the team's point guard this season.

"I feel like if the season started tomorrow I'd put him where I've been saying he's going to play - a four man. He'll be a trailing four."

"He's going to have the ball so much rebounding and leading the break that there's going to be times in the game where he's going to have the ball more as a traditional one. As the years unfold, we're going to judge it better," added Brown, in an interview with Philly radio station 97.5 The Fanatic that was transcribed by NJ Advance Media.

"I completely feel that the strength of Ben Simmons is going to be born out of simplicity.

We have to clean up his world, put him in a place where he can really do well and not have to think too much and grow him as we learn more about how he reacts to different situations."

But that doesn't mean there won't be times Simmons is charged with running the offence.

"I think if the season started today you'd give Jerryd Bayless the ball and you'd go from there," Brown said of the point guard position, according to CSN Philly. "(But) I feel like there will be times you'll see Simmons with the ball as the traditional point guard. I think you're going to see Dario (Saric) and Ben a lot, defensive rebounding, leading the break, and we'll run with them."

The 76ers begin a stretch of seven preseason games on October 5 (NZT) before kicking off the regular season at home against Oklahoma City on October 27.

Brown told reporters at a lunch in Philadelphia he wants Simmons to work on his ability to run a lane on the break. "I feel like his growth of learning how to run a lane and play ahead of the ball, that second pass, and we get him going in the open court on a kick ahead, where it's not always Ben ball-dominant, will be a part of his growth offensively," Brown said. "His evolution will be rapid."

Simmons was recently described as a "LeBron-type player" by Shaquille O'Neal and continues to earn favourable comparisons from his coach.

"At times you'll see Magic Johnson dribbling up the floor at 6-10, other times you could see a runaway train running up the floor like LeBron (James) just moving ahead and going coast to coast. Sometimes you'll see a little bit of bounce with Draymond (Green)," Brown said.

"I just said a big point guard and some mobile four men, but what you mostly see is a 20-year-old young man that is 245 pounds that I think, and I don't throw this sentence out lightly, I think truly wants to be great. I really think he wants to be great. So that's my job to help him understand, well what does that mean, because that's a hell of a sentence."

Brown isn't the only one teaching Simmons how to become an All-Star level talent. The Aussie has a friendship with James and was recently photographed working out with the Cavs superstar, Dwyane Wade and Richard Jefferson in Los Angeles.

"LeBron is very recognised for being a sort of maniacal worker," Brown said. "He's extremely prideful in his body. He's extremely concise with time. He's very professional.

Then you take his physical gifts and see what he's done over his career, the package is elite. I think when you sort of study greatness and the great players, those type of qualities are common.

"To be able to share those experiences with Ben, to show the experiences with how you work with Ben, I think it's just a wonderful thing. We talk all the time with our players and ask; 'Do you want to be great?' You don't just kick that word around lightly. Those habits, those routines, how you see the world matters. LeBron is a wonderful example for Ben."

There will be enormous pressure on Simmons' shoulders this season. Many will expect him to win the Rookie of the Year Award - a campaign that will be aided by the team's plans to play him 30-plus minutes per game.

But Brown believes the Victorian product can take it in stride. "I think he's very mature in how he sees things as it relates to his responsibility to himself and the city. I think he understands that the media and the public, there are all eyes on him, that it's twofold," he said.

"There is responsibility to carry himself in a way that the franchise and the city would want, with a bit of class and a bit of grace. I think he understands that. He's been extremely well raised."

It all adds up to what is looming as a season of improvement for the Sixers, who finished with a league-worst 10-72 record in 2015-16. "How can we not feel a breath of fresh air, a new bounce, a higher level of hope, and an excitement that together we haven't experienced for a while," Brown said.

- news.com.au

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