LAS VEGAS – Ben Simmons had a short but lofty list of areas to improve after his first game at the Samsung summer league.
“Everything,” he said following the Sixers' last-second loss to the Lakers.
Simmons neared a triple-double with eight points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 30 minutes. He shot 3 for 8 from the field and 2 for 4 from the line.
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Simmons, a point-forward who started at the four spot, shared the Sixers ball handling responsibilities with T.J. McConnell. He committed a game-high seven turnovers, one more than Lakers’ second-year point guard D’Angelo Russell. Even so, the Sixers were pleased with his point performance.
“I thought Ben was great,” Sixers Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said. “He got a lot of guys involved. He had the right energy, he was moving the ball, attacking downhill.”
For all the numbers he posts on the scoreboard and off assists, Pierce wants Simmons to develop into a “complete player.” The coach is looking for Simmons to focus on the other end of the floor instead of scoring and dishing.
“For me, it’s always going to be defense. Everyone knows he’s a special talent offensively. I want him to lock into the defensive end of the floor, stay engaged on both sides. I think that’s where it starts.”
Leading up to the game, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. Jerami Grant and McConnell both attempted 10 field goals, Richaun Holmes shot nine, and Simmons and Nik Stauskas each went for eight.
“I did a little bit better,” Simmons said of being aggressive. “Obviously I’ve got to do much better than tonight, but we have a few more games to go so I’m looking forward to learning from my mistakes.”
Simmons is taking Saturday’s loss as an early NBA experience. He will encounter close games during his career, and coming up short against the Lakers will have its lessons.
“Learning how to handle different situations,” Simmons said of the takeaway. “It was going back and forth, a lot of threes. I think we should have slowed it down a little bit, but that’s where we’re here for, to learn.”
Simmons and the Sixers will be back on the court Sunday morning for shootaround before their game that evening against the Bulls.