When the pingpong balls finally landed the 76ers’ way, the result was LSU standout Ben Simmons.
He was the consensus No. 1 overall pick.
Through the Summer League in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, Simmons displayed flashes of brilliance and gave the rabid Sixers fan base hope for the future.
Simmons played a pair of games in Salt Lake City and four more in Las Vegas. At times, he looked like a future All-Star. Other times, he looked like a rookie learning his way through the league.
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Let’s be fair: Simmons is a 19-year-old kid who played all of one season in college.
Simmons did enough to be named to the All-NBA Summer League First Team. His statistics were inconsistent, but statistics in the Summer League are rather meaningless. It’s more important to get some much-needed experience.
And that’s exactly what Simmons did.
Since the sports world is rather quiet, criticism came Simmons’ way from Hall of Fame guard Isiah Thomas. The former Detroit Pistons’ All-Star couldn’t understand why Simmons was being rested for a couple of games.
Thomas is entitled to his opinion, but he’s missing the point.
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The Sixers have been completely irrelevant the past three seasons, going a disastrous 47-199. They finally have hope with Simmons, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel and others for the 2016-17 season.
Folks, this is the Summer League. Resting a future All-Star and a potential cornerstone of your franchise for a couple of games in the Summer League is just fine. There will be no issues moving forward. Once training camp starts, the marathon NBA season will be enough of a test for any rookie, even the No. 1 overall selection.
Coach Brett Brown was visible in interviews through the Summer League and quickly raved about Simmons.
“You feel it in the city, where they feel a breath of fresh air, they feel hope,” Brown told NBA TV. “Ben brings a new life to the city and the organization. I think things are coming together.”
Simmons’ education in the NBA will happen quickly. He’ll be facing great players every night while learning the nuances of the league. There will be back-to-back games in two different cities. There will be nights he doesn’t shoot well and has to adjust his game. There will be situations he never encountered at LSU.
The talent is evident. This kid has a bevy of skills. You can see it in the Summer League.
Sixers fans will soon see all of these skills at the Wells Fargo Center. When the regular season starts, no one will remember that Simmons sat out a couple of games in the Summer League.
It’s the future that counts. That future starts now with Simmons.