Much like Carson Wentz, Sixers rookie Ben Simmons will have every pass, every shot, every move scrutinized.
Wentz has done a fabulous job as a rookie quarterback for the Eagles in their surprising 2-0 start.
Preparation has been a key component. Simmons can learn from Wentz’s beginning in the NFL.
Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft from LSU, will join an extremely young Sixers team with plenty of potential. The last No. 1 overall pick for the Sixers was none other than Allen Iverson, who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame.
No pressure, huh?
“I think — and I don’t throw this sentence out lightly — I think he truly wants to be great,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said of Simmons last week during his annual meeting with reporters. “Like, I really think he really wants to be great. Well, what does that mean? Because that’s a hell of a sentence. We’ve had this conversation and I believe that he does. Where he ends up, who he is, what position he plays, I think it’s going to be fluid, and we’re going to learn a lot after his first year, obviously, in the NBA.”
The Sixers aren’t expected to win a championship this season. They aren’t even expected to compete in the playoffs. Without postseason aspirations, it should ease some of the burden on the 6-foot-10 Simmons, who played just one season at LSU.
“His evolution is going to be rapid,” Brown told reporters. “I think that the expectations that he feels, where eyes are on him, he has a high level of reality. He gets it, I think, both on the court and off the court.”
Having a successful rookie season is tough enough. Morphing into the type of player who can lift an entire franchise — like Iverson — is a completely different story.
For now, Simmons will be put in a position to help push the franchise to the next level. It shouldn’t be too difficult considering the Sixers have won 47 games over the past three seasons and only 10 last season.
“There is responsibility to carry himself in a way that the franchise and the city would want, one with a bit of class, a bit of grace,” Brown said. “The flip side is, where in life can you trip on an opportunity where you can come into a city and immediately have people look at you like you’re going to be one of the pieces that can move this program forward in a big way and potentially be with us for a long time? He sees it that way.”
Simmons played in six total summer league games and displayed flashes of his overall ability. The statistics (10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists) are rather meaningless since it’s not a true indication of what the regular season will bring.
But the skills were evident. There’s so much to be excited about. Preparation will be key. And it starts now.
Look at Wentz.
Preparation pays off.