ATLANTA — The 76ers are determined to continue using Ben Simmons in a variety of ways.
They saw how successful that was during the nine games Joel Embiid missed with a torn ligament in his left ring finger. With Embiid out, the Sixers used Simmons as a screen-setter. They also played him at center. And the Sixers used him as a facilitator at the elbow, where his teammates played off him.
All that took him away from his role as the primary ballhandler.
“That needs to be continued to be grown,” coach Brett Brown said Thursday. "It will mean. It will mean. I’m not saying, ‘It may mean.’ I’m saying it will mean that he’s not the primary ballhandler when you put him in those situations ...
“So really, it’s a goal and sort of the growth of Ben to put him in all these environments where he’s really good at and can impact the game at.”
Simmons averaged 21.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.3 steals while leading the Sixers to a 6-3 record during Embiid’s absence. He was named the Eastern Conference player of the week on Jan. 20 after averaging 21.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists during a 3-1 week for the Sixers.
But his most impressive performance during the nine-game stretch came in a matinee against the Brooklyn Nets, the day he was named player of the week. Simmons finished with career-high-tying 34 points and added 12 rebounds, 12 assists, five steals and two blocks, with three turnovers, in the Sixers’ 117-111 victory at the Barclays Center. He made 12 of 14 shots and went 10-for-14 from the foul line.
So it’s obvious why the Sixers are determined to continue maximizing his versatility.