Brett Brown talked glowingly about Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. The 76ers coach even added that neither player will be defined this season by his shooting ability.
But does that mean the coach is comfortable having a lineup on the court with Simmons at point guard and Fultz at shooting guard?
Both players' current Achilles' heel is outside shooting. As a result, defenses will sag away in an attempt to prevent them from getting to the basket. At the same time, that would force the duo to settle for outside jumpers.
It would be ideal to pair Simmons or Fultz with someone capable of making a consistent outside shot.
"It sure would help," Brown said of the duo having a solid shot. "I can see that. … But at what point of the game — is it start, is it ending — whatever it is, those two guys will play together. Those two guys will play together.
"And, you know, there's zero doubt we'll go through some growing pains, as everyone expects and should expect."
Fultz spent this summer in Los Angeles working with shooting coach Drew Hanlen with the hope of regaining the form that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2017.
In late June, Hanlen confirmed what sources have told the Inquirer and Daily News: that Fultz last year had the "yips" and "completely forgot how to shoot."
Brown said Fultz took around 150,000 shots this summer under Hanlen's supervision.
"When I see him now come back into our gym, you look at his swagger, his cocky, his mojo," the coach said. "He's seeking shots."
While he has shown some improvement, the Maryland native isn't a finished product. Witnesses have observed that, on occasion, he appears to push his long-range shots from in front of his face. Fultz also looks more fluid off the dribble than while stationary.
"When I look at the actual form, there are times, from a posture standpoint, he's a little bit backward," Brown said. "When you look at him rising up, or getting the ball in his shot pocket, sometimes his head will go back and he'll play more in a fade-type fundamental that we want to try to correct."
Fultz played in the first four regular-season games before being sidelined for the next 68 with what the team called a right-shoulder injury. However, his shooting woes were mental, according to several sources. After showing some improvement in his shot, Fultz returned for the final 10 games of the season.
Meanwhile, Simmons' biggest problem is becoming comfortable incorporating three-pointers in his game. He attempted only 11 last season (mostly from half-court or beyond) and missed all of them.
"His jump shot is not going to define him," Brown said. "At some point, it will sure help."
But the 6-foot-10 point guard never really focused on his outside shooting because he dominated in high school and college without needing an outside shot. However, he hired his brother, Liam Simmons, as his personal shooting coach this summer as a way to improve. They have been focused on three-pointers and shots from the elbow.
Brown said he will have lineups that feature Fultz at point guard and Simmons at power forward.
"I would space Ben just like I spaced Ben last year: would put him down in my version of the dunker's spot …. right behind the backboard," he said, "so he can hide and play peekaboo behind the backboard."
The Sixers are comfortable doing that just because Joel Embiid has outside shooting range. As a result, Brown feels he can place Embiid anywhere on the floor, even in the corner.
But what will the Sixers do with Fultz when Simmons has the ball?
"I could place him at a dunker," Brown said, "let him play peekaboo behind the backboard, or — and this is really what's on my mind — I can place him in the corners."
That's what the Spurs did with point guard Tony Parker, a subpar three-point shooter, back when Brown was on San Antonio's coaching staff. Brown said his team can attempt three-pointers all over the floor in that scenario.