Season of Simmons starts with a sizzle
THERE were no three-point attempts for Ben Simmons in a game where both teams were atrocious from long-range but as far as statement games go this was what Philadelphia fans were looking for first-up from their Australian point guard.
Simmons was quite simply the best player on the court as the 76ers bumped and bruised their way to a 107-93 win in Thurday's season-opener at home.
Showcasing the aggressive intent and willingness to lead coach Brett Brown expects in year three, Simmons finished with a team-high 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
On a night where franchise centre Joel Embiid and new front court teammate Al Horford suffered through foul trouble and poor shooting - and the 76ers were an ugly 7/29 from three - Simmons carried the scoring load to secure a win against a team that has given Philly fits the past two years.
"We'll have a chance to see that frequently," Brown said.
"He's so gifted physically but now it's started to morph into a mentality ... it's a powerful combination."
He again showed why he doesn't need a jumpshot to dominate NBA games and while that's proven to be a problem come play-off time, it's not in October.
Ben Simmons looks really good. As good as we realistically could’ve hoped imo. Now the other guys just need to start knocking down open shots.— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) October 24, 2019
Simmons showed off his unique athleticism, body control and finishing ability to lay-in some sensational finishes - none better than artful right-handed conversion on a fast break.
A season that carries championship-level expectations for Philadelphia began in positive fashion.
The lack of shooting is a problem that needs to be solved and Philly won't always be easy to watch this season.
But holding a team that averaged more than 112 points per game last season to 93 showed their potential to be a defensive nightmare.
Ex-Hornets guard Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum have new-found responsibility after the departures of Horford and Kyrie Irving but finished a combined 12/40.
Gordon Hayward was a more encouraging 8/15 for 25 points as he seeks to re-establish himself as an elite player.