Ben Simmons was asked Tuesday how much he expects things to change.
Does the 76ers All-Star still expect to have the ball in his hands as a point forward after being moved from point guard?
“It’s basketball,” he joked. “You‘ve got to get the ball.”
That’s true, but Sixers coach Brett Brown said Monday that Shake Milton was the starting point guard during the team’s training camp practices at Walt Disney World in preparation for the NBA’s 22-team restart there. Brown also said Simmons played exclusively at power forward, but he backtracked a bit on that before Tuesday’s practice.
Brown said Simmons bought into the position switch. The 23-year-old was asked about that on Tuesday.
“I’m a basketball player,” Simmons said. “At the end of the day, if you know me, you know if you put me on the floor, I’ll make anything happen whether it’s plays, buckets, stops. I’ll guard anyone 1 through 5.
“I run the floor. I can get to the rim. I can score the ball and I make plays happen. So wherever you put me, if I’m 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, it’s going to happen. I don’t really look at it as a title, a position. That’s mainly for you guys to put down in your articles.”
As a point guard, the 6-foot-10 Simmons has become one of the league’s transcendent players. He has 30 career triple-doubles, including the postseason. Six have come this season. The former Rookie of the Year is averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and a league-leading 2.1 steals this season. And he was named an NBA All-Star for the second straight year.
Simmons avoiding answering whether it was his or Brown’s decision to move him to power forward, saying the Sixers are working on different things.
“You’ve got to try different things out to see if they work,” he said. “We are not at a stage where we can be comfortable yet. I’m still trying to figure it out myself ... what feels comfortable, what’s right for this team, how are we going to win. If it’s this way, I’m all for it.
“So I’ve been having fun in that position, whether you guys say the four, whatever it is. At the end of the day, once you just see me on the floor, I’m making plays.”
Brown said that it’s extremely early, and acknowledged starting training camp with Milton having the ball. On Tuesday, the coach moved Simmons “all over the place.”
“Ben Simmons has been incredible,” Brown said. “Like really incredible, playing all over the court.”
Former Sixer Jimmy Butler was the primary ballhandler in crunch time when he was with the Sixers. Brown could opt to give Simmons the ball or let Milton handle it, but he gave a non-answer to the question.
“Right now, I have come into camp, and playing Ben Simmons like I said at the start, all over the place,” he said. “He does have the ball at times. I have played him at the four man. So I suspect I will continue to use him in many ways.
“I think when it gets a little bit closer than four days into practice, I will be able to better give you probably more detail. But I think about it all the time.”
Just having Simmons on the court in any capacity is a plus for the Sixers. He sat out the final eight games before the NBA shutdown on March 11 because of a pinched nerve in his back.
“I feel really good,” Simmons said. “I feel strong. I feel explosive, fast. This is probably the fastest I’ve been since I been on the floor.”