Ben Simmons plays with the confidence like he has been preparing for the NBA his entire life.
Growing up in a hoops family, he set his sights on that career path early on. His father had a lengthy career in the Australian National Basketball League, playing under Sixers head coach Brett Brown, and the game was in his blood. But basketball wasn’t the only sport Simmons participated in back in Australia.
Simmons played rugby until he was nine years old. Then he took up Australian football, in which players can kick to pass, for a few years until he was around 15. He stopped playing once it came time to focus on just basketball.
“My dad played pro, so that played a big part, and everybody in my family plays,” Simmons said of basketball last month during summer league. “It was one of those things where I was always going to play, but I tried different sports. I enjoyed playing other sports until I got to the age where I really wanted to take it seriously.”
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Leading up to the draft, Simmons showed off his soccer skills on the court. In one video, he kicked the basketball in from three. He directed the tweet at star soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. In another, Simmons “passed” the ball to himself with his feet, caught it, and drained a long-range shot.
Simmons has found the skills from rugby and Australian football translate on to the basketball court. As a point-forward, Simmons has keen floor vision and savvy play-making abilities. He averaged 4.8 assists per game in college and 5.5 per game in summer league action.
“Passing, spacing, team-orientated sports helped me,” Simmons said.
So is there any sport Simmons can’t tackle? Don’t expect to see him tearing up the golf course any time soon.
“That’s like the one thing I’m not good at,” Simmons said after a team-building trip to Topgolf. “I’ve played, but probably the clubs are too short.”