Ben Simmons can't wait to get started
A season spent recovering from foot surgery has weighed on the Sixers top pick. We can do big things, he says of his team.
Ben Simmons decided to not reveal much during his long-awaited news conference.
Simmons, the first overall pick by the 76ers in last year's draft, talked Thursday about being a leader, working out, his frustration this season, and his excitement about playing next season. But Simmons did not speak in specifics.
He was noncommittal when he was asked when he expects to participate in five-on-five scrimmages.
"When they tell me," said Simmons, who missed his entire rookie season after surgery to repair a broken right foot.
A scan Tuesday revealed that his foot is completely healed. That cleared him to be put on a path to participate in five-on-five scrimmages. But as has been the case in the last four seasons, the Sixers have used extreme caution when it comes to injured players. They have kept some of them sidelined long after they were cleared to play.
Simmons reportedly is not expected to play on the Sixers' summer-league team. He was asked whether he wanted to play in the summer.
"If I'm ready to play, then I'm ready," said Simmons, whose rehab progression will be gradual. "We will see what happens."
He was asked whether the Sixers told him of their intentions for him in the summer league.
"I can't play if I'm not ready," Simmons said. "I have to see if I'm ready first."
There is still uncertainty about his return, and the 20-year-old clearly has grown tired of the long process. He can't promise that he'll be available for the 2017-18 season opener.
"But I'm going to work until I'm back to where I was," the former LSU star said.
His work will begin Tuesday at the Sixers' practice facility in Camden. Simmons said he's going to lift weights as well.
In the past, he has been working out with the team's shooting coach, John Townsend, participating in five-on-none scripting, and coming back late at night to do more shooting. He admitted to being frustrated with not playing this season. But Simmons said his patience improved because of it.
The Sixers are transforming the small forward into a 6-foot-10 point guard. He welcomes the position switch.
"I'm with that," Simmons said. "I want to be a leader. Challenge-wise, you know - just playing, it's going to be tough. I definitely want to learn it."
He's been having point guard classroom sessions with coach Brett Brown throughout the season. Simmons said he also has watched every NBA game this season to study the point guard play.
Simmons is trying to pick up a few leadership tips from teammates Robert Covington and Gerald Henderson. He also has formed a bond with Jerryd Bayless, whom he calls a big brother.
"I think we can do big things," he said of the next season. "I don't want to say anything too specific. But I'm excited to play with these guys. I think we can do some damage."