CHICAGO – It was an obvious question Monday night after Ben Simmons collected 19 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and a career-high four blocked shots in a loss to the Chicago Bulls.
A reporter asked 76ers coach Brett Brown if an outing such as this shows how good the point guard is despite not having a complete game.
On this night, as he has done on many others, Simmons put up impressive numbers despite mostly shying away from attempting jumpers more than six feet from the basket.
"The way that I see it is just how much growth he really has," Brown said. "He really has an abundance of growth to make, and he will.
"To think that he can put his signature on an NBA game like he does with so much room for improvement in some skill areas is exciting."
The Sixers' immediate goals for the transcendent 6-foot-10 player haven't changed. They want him to work on finishing around the basket and free-throw shooting. Brown specifically wants him to take rise-up jumpers. The coach doesn't care if Simmons makes them. He just wants to see the 21-year-old coming to 2-foot jump stops and also shooting, 15-, 16- and 17-foot jumpers.
"It needs to happen," Brown said. "You know it's hard to impact NBA games [without attempting jumpers], and it's especially hard to impact NBA playoffs … without those things."
The Sixers hope to reach the playoffs this season. They have a 14-16 record and a No. 10 Eastern Conference seeding after Tuesday's 101-95 loss to the Sacramento Kings at the Wells Fargo Center. The conference's top eight teams at the end of the 82-game regular season advance to the postseason.
Against the Kings, Simmons only attempted six shots, making five of them. He finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, nine rebounds, three steals and four turnovers.
As Brown pointed out, Simmons will have to improve in shooting and willingness to shoot in a playoff-type setting. He has missed all nine of his three-point attempts. The Australian native is shooting 54.8 percent from the foul line. And he's shooting 39.5 percent on shots of between 3 and 10 feet. Simmons is shooting 25.6 percent on shots of between 10 and 16 feet. Meanwhile, he's made 5 of 10 attempts from 16 feet to the three-point line.
However, Simmons still managed to average of 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 2.1 steals into the Kings game.
"You look at the stat sheet, knowing that those are the areas that are right around the corner," Brown said of his shooting deficiencies. "Wow. Imagine when that happens. How do you guard him?"