The arrival of Ben Simmons: All you need to know from Sixers preseason opener

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“Oh my god.” Dave Fizdale, now in his second season as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, summed up Simmons’ debut with the opening sentence of his post-game remarks about the Sixers. Fizdale continued saying,

“I don’t want to see that for the next 15 years. That kid, they’re not talking about him enough. The way he moves with the ball, his ability to see the floor, the way he can get places on the floor. Once he gets confidence in his shot where you really have to close out all the way to the [3-point line], wow. He is a big-time talent.”

Simmons took only nine seconds to announce to the NBA that he had arrived with a driving layup for the first points of the game. It was the Ben Simmons Show for the next 5 scoring sequences as he scored on another layup and regularly hit teammates in transition for 4 assists.

The highlight play of the game came in transition as Simmons displayed his incredible vision and passing ability, hitting Richaun Holmes for an alley oop from half court (0:22 mark in video below)

Sixers Head Coach Brett Brown had plenty of positive things to say after the game about his rookie star.

“I mean his breakaway speed, his ability to get to the rim, the pace of which he plays, I love. His ability to see things, find corners when defensive players just nudge him over, he can find stuff well.”

While it is still way too early to anoint him the second coming of Magic Johnson, it appears the Ben Simmons at point guard experiment is a wild success. He finished the night with 6 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds in just 21 minutes.

Markelle Fultz on the other hand, struggled to find his shot, shooting just 15.4% from the field. The 2017 first overall pick finished with 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in his first ever NBA action.

Fultz was tasked with playing off the ball while sharing the court with Simmons, a look that can be expected throughout the season. When Simmons sat, he was given the opportunity to run the floor.

Fultz left the game feeling confident about the rapport building between him and Simmons.

“I thought our chemistry was actually pretty good,” said Fultz. “You saw the first play of the game, I think I got an assist to him when he was cutting backdoor. That’s our first time playing together in games in the NBA, so it’s just going to grow from there. We’ve only even had a few weeks of practice, so for the first game, I thought it was pretty good, and it’s only going to go uphill from here.”

The Sixers went into halftime trailing 55-56 but were outscored 34-18 in the third quarter.

The Grizzlies were led by Brandan Wright’s 16 points and 8 rebounds. They out rebounded the Sixers by 17, and held the Sixers to 34.8% shooting from the field.

Other Notes:

  • Jahlil Okafor looked spry and engaged all game. Losing 20-30 pounds in the offseason looks to have done wonders for his game. He finished the game on 5-6 shooting for 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 19 minutes.

 

  • J.J. Reddick is a great addition to the team. He gives the Sixers the veteran leadership they’ve been lacking and another long range specialist opponents have to account for. And really, how often do you get to see a 4-point play? It’ll be exciting to see him work off of creative looks from Simmons driving into the lane.

 

  • Kris Humphries is bad. Like really bad. Fans clearly don’t want him here.

Looking Forward:

The Sixers will host the Boston Celtics at 7:00 PM EST on Friday. This match will be the team’s last home game until the regular season home opener, October 20th, against the Celtics.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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