LAS VEGAS — Ben Simmons appears to be getting "it." For the first time since after his surgery to repair his fractured right foot, Simmons met with the Philadelphia media on Saturday at halftime of the team's Summer League game against the San Antonio Spurs. Earlier, in an interview with ESPN, Simmons acknowledged that he had been playing full 5-on-5 at the team's practice facility. There is an agreement between the NBA and the Professional Basketball Writers Association that when an injured player is back playing 5-on-5, he must be made available to the media.

So the 6-foot-10 guard sort of had to meet with the media, and the public relations department rightfully thought that no time like the present would be best. So before the Q-and-A even began, Simmons pleaded, "No bad questions," almost as if there was some sort of agenda against him.

It's almost understandable, though, for Simmons to have his guard up. Since he was drafted by the team last year, it undoubtedly had been an overwhelming feeling of expectations and hype. Then he fractured his foot on the last day of training camp and questions swirled almost immediately whether he'd sit out the whole season, as previous draft picks Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid had. In his eyes, all he probably wanted to be was a 19-year-old kid who couldn't wait to get a cast off his foot and continue to play the game he loved.

But all the while, his name was thrown around as to whether he would return. Did he want to sit out so that he could hold on to his rookie status? Were there monetary reasons behind his not playing? Could he have come back with a month left in the season so the coaches could have gauged what type of player he was?

None of that matters, now, and certainly shouldn't have been put on the shoulders of Simmons then. Still, you got the feeling it weighed on him. Although he wasn't obligated to talk, when you saw him on a daily basis, it just seemed there was an edge. And it very well could be that it stood out more because he's surrounded by such affable teammates such as Embiid and Dario Saric and Robert Covington and T.J. McConnell, and so on.

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Saturday, though, Simmons seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, as though he met an immense challenge and nailed it. He was short, but honest, with his answers. He got through it, laughed about it afterward and seemed to realize it wasn't so bad.

This isn't to say that Ben Simmons being more comfortable with the media is going make the Sixers an immediate playoff contender. It isn't a pat on the back to the guy who, for the time being, allowed fans into his world of thinking. But it does add to the all-important culture of what Brett Brown is trying to build.

"The Process" gained serious momentum when Joel Embiid's 7-2, 280-pound frame jumped on the bandwagon and encouraged everyone to trust it. It has become the slogan that surrounds the team all over the country. It's fun for the players, fans and organization. It brings about a huge sense of positivity after four years of incomprehensible losing. And it is a big part of building the type of culture that Brett Brown is looking for in this organization.

"Before I came out to Vegas, I was in the gym every day with Joe [Embiid], getting a lot or work in," Simmons said. "I'm excited. I'm just excited to get out there and play with those vets and with Markelle [Fultz]. He's a great young player.

"Sitting out a whole year gave me a chance to really take a step back and look at the game and make sure I was focusing on the right things. And then, obviously, my body and taking care of my body and just continuing to work. It was amazing to see the fans still coming to the games, no matter if we're 0-82. People still came out and showed support."

He had a year to learn the ways of the NBA. Simmons spent all of last season absorbing the Philadelphia way — passionately reacting and overreacting to the littlest things. Ben Simmons seems to understand it all a lot better now. Learning how to handle the Philadelphia sports scene is no easy task, and he probably has a long way to go to fully comprehend it. But Saturday, the Australian native seemed to take a big step toward being one of us, one of those who are entrenched in the sports landscape of this city, good and bad.

And that could go a long way to helping the culture of the 76ers even more.