LAS VEGAS -- Ben Simmons can score, but the uncertainty was how often will he look to do it?
Simmons entered Sunday’s game having attempted just 25 field goals in three summer league contests. Coaches had urged him to be aggressive, and Simmons noted at shootaround that he intended to take more shots (see story).
Simmons scored eight straight points for the Sixers over a minute-and-a-half burst late in the fourth quarter as they tried to climb back against the Bulls. The No. 1 pick in June's draft finished with a game-high 18 points (7 for 13 from the floor, 4 for 5 from the line).
“They were giving me shots, so I started taking them and they were falling,” Simmons said. “I got into a little rhythm.”
Simmons pieced together the spurt with a driving dunk, driving reverse layup, turnaround jumper and jumpshot. A point-forward, he has been looking to pass first. The Sixers had fallen behind, though, and were looking for a quick spurt to get back in the game.
Simmons more than doubled his summer league scoring average of 8.0 points. His previous shooting highs were three field goals made (against the Lakers) and nine attempts (against the Celtics).
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia 76ers and their rivals in the NBA from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“We needed something,” Sixers Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We needed some burst of energy and he obviously had to shoot a little bit more tonight. It was nice to see the ball go in and see him attack.”
Simmons dished only two assists and did not record one until the third quarter. He dropped eight dimes the previous game and was averaging 6.3 for the summer. On Sunday, though, he took advantage of his opportunities to score.
“I take what they give me,” Simmons said of his passing. “Usually when I get to the rim, guys are cutting. Obviously, today was more about me taking shots because they were allowing me to shoot the ball, so I took advantage of it.”
Pierce pointed out Simmons averaged close to 20 points per game during his freshman (and only) year at LSU.
“You guys have all questioned whether or not he’s going to look to take those shots,” Pierce said. “Tonight he took them.”