The 76ers, with high expectations, have been drawing national media to their preseason games and will continue to be a big draw throughout the season. Every part of the team will be analyzed, led by the shooting of All-Star point guard Ben Simmons.
After Wednesday’s practice, Simmons was as candid as he has ever been when asked why he thinks he can take the team far despite not being a high-volume shooter.
“It is something I have been working toward getting better as a player, as you would do as a writer. Everybody works to get better,” Simmons said.
Then referring to a television cameraman who was taping the interview, Simmons said, “Him behind the camera, he wasn’t the best the first day he started. That is just my game.”
Simmons created an Internet explosion Oct. 8 in the Sixers’ preseason opener when he made his first professional three-pointer in a 144-86 win over Guangzhou.
In his first two seasons with the Sixers, he was 0-for-17 from beyond the arc, most of which were buzzer heaves, and he missed his lone playoff attempt. He had also been 0-for-1 in the preseason before hitting that shot.
With that as a backdrop, Simmons dealt head-on with the issue of his shooting.
“I am confident to say I am not a great shooter,” he said. “I am getting better, though. It is a game. It is five people on the court. I lack something that I am not that great at, but other areas I am very great at. I run the floor as well as anybody. Physically, I can rebound the ball at 6-10. As a point guard, I can guard ‘one’ through ‘five.’ That is one thing that is coming into my game which I am excited about. I love getting better; I love spending time in the gym and building that confidence.”
That was about as expansive as he has been on the subject.
Simmons returned to practice Wednesday, but neither he nor the team would say if he would play in Friday’s preseason finale against the Washington Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center.
Simmons missed Tuesday’s 106-86 win over the Detroit Pistons with lower back tightness, something he dealt with last season, although he appeared in 79 of 82 regular-season games. He noticed tightness during and after Sunday’s 126-94 win in Orlando.
Simmons played nearly 24 minutes against Orlando, with 3 points (1-for-4 shooting), 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, but 5 turnovers.
According to the Sixers, both Simmons and reserve forward James Ennis returned to practice, pursuant to their individual care plans. Ennis missed Tuesday’s game because of a right calf strain.
Both players will have their status for Friday’s game updated and evaluated after Thursday’s practice.
The media wasn’t able to view practice, but the Sixers said that Simmons and Ennis did not participate in every drill.
Before Tuesday’s game, Ennis said he could have played had it been a regular-season game.
When asked if he would be ready for Friday’s preseason finale, Simmons couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“It depends on how I feel,” he said. “My main focus is to be ready opening night. That is the priority.”
The Sixers will open Oct. 23 against the visiting Boston Celtics.
“I am confident I will be 100% by the time Boston comes,” Simmons said.
So how does he feel at this point?