Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons may never develop the killer jumper that everyone wishes he would. He doesn’t like shooting. OK, whatever.
But the 24-year-old has been improving his game in other ways, most notably off the court where Simmons has blossomed into a leader. The Sixers point guard has made a concerted effort to bond with fellow All-Star Joel Embiid while mentoring the younger guys on the roster. It’s a similar vibe to what LeBron James did last year in Los Angeles with Anthony Davis. Simmons has even invited teammates over to his house to hang out, according to Dwight Howard.
“I’ve seen him grow in both areas,” Howard told reporters on Friday. “As far as leadership on the court, being more vocal. Off the court, just him being more vocal. Him and Jo spending more time together and talking to you know everybody on the team. Telling guys where they should be on the offense and just little things like inviting guys out, having dinner, stuff like that. I’ve seen them grow in a lot of areas and we’re very proud of him.”
More Dwight Howard on Ben Simmons' (@BenSimmons25) leadership:
"Off the court – him being more vocal, him and Joel spending more time together, him talking to everybody on the team… And little things – inviting guys out, having dinner, stuff like that. I’m very proud of him." https://t.co/GdJJfriX2Z
— Lauren Rosen (@LaurenMRosen) April 9, 2021
Simmons has been criticized in recent weeks for his play on the court, including speculation he may still be suffering from an old left knee injury. The three-time All-Star is averaging 15.2 points, 7.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds in 43 games.
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Doc Rivers Not Worried About Simmons
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers is sick and tired of hearing about Simmons’ shooting or lack thereof. He called the 6-foot-11 point guard a “facilitator” and expressed appreciation for the multiple ways he impacts the game on a nightly basis. The team specifically brought in experienced three-point shooters (see: Danny Green, Seth Curry, George Hill) to carry the scoring load.
Ben Simmons is doing a better job finishing tonight. Simmons is 4 of 6 from the field and has 11 points. One difference he's done is either dunking or using his second hand to shield defenders, something that wasn't happening as much last game against the Cavaliers.
— Chris Franklin (@cfranklinnews) April 4, 2021
“I think (the media) is way more concerned about him scoring than I am,” Rivers told reporters last week. “I think Ben does so many things for this team to help us win. Scoring is just, I’m telling you, the last thing that I’m concerned about.”
There is one thing Rivers wouldn’t mind seeing Simmons do more of, though. What’s that? Dunking.
“I think whenever you can, you should,” Rivers said of dunking, then jokingly added: “I didn’t have that ability.”
Rest in Peace, Prayers Up, DMX
Legendary rapper DMX died on Friday at the age of 50 after suffering cardiac arrest, which was believed to be a result of a drug overdose. He had been on life support and “in a vegetative state” since April 2.
The death sent shockwaves through the NBA as several players shared heartfelt tributes to the hip hop icon. DMX was the voice of an entire generation of young hoopers on the playground.
“He will be missed,” Sixers center Dwight Howard said. “We will always remember the music and the words of encouragement, the positivity, and the things that X has done for my generation. I just send his family my condolences and want to let them know how much during this time that we send them our love and our prayers.”
“If I was to drop dead right now, my last thought would be: I’ve lived a good life.” – DMX, February 2021 pic.twitter.com/aB3hqXbbHx
— love yourself. (@MichellCClark) April 9, 2021