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Ben Simmons Solid In Las Vegas Debut Despite Scoring Woes

Despite plenty of room for improvement, the top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft continues to impress.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Lost in the hubbub of D'Angelo Russell's three-point buzzer beater and poster dunks from Larry Nance Jr. was another well-rounded stat line from top pick Ben Simmons. The 19-year-old made his Las Vegas Summer League debut on Saturday evening, posting 8 points (3-8 FG, 2-4 FT), 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. He wowed a packed Thomas & Mack Center with a plethora of seemingly impossible passes, and looked very engaged on the defensive throughout the majority of the game. Sixers assistant and Las Vegas Summer League head coach Lloyd Pierce was impressed with the way he played in what was essentially a home game for the Lakers.

"I thought Ben was great," Pierce said. "He got a lot of guys involved. He had the right energy, was moving the ball and attacking down hill. It’s a great first step for him just to be aggressive, and to find guys."

Simmons had little trouble creating offense for his teammates, but continued to struggle to finish opportunities for himself. He's yet to have any real refined moves around the rim -- which for a teenager is perfectly reasonable -- and seems to struggle scoring over bigger bodies. Through three total summer league games, Simmons is shooting just 7-25, but Pierce is more concerned about him continuing to contribute on the defensive end than anything else.

"Everyone knows he's going to be a special talent offensively," he said. "I want him to lock into the defensive end of the floor, be engaged on both sides. I think that's where it starts. I don't want to make too much about his offense or his shots or anything like that."

Simmons has played a majority of his minutes thus far with the ball in his hands, but that may not be the case come the regular season. Philadelphia recently signed a competent ball handler in Euro star Sergio Rodriguez, and T.J. McConnell continues to prove he's capable of running an NBA offense after a stellar performance against the Lakers. Pierce does still view Simmons as a power forward, and wants him to become more comfortable handling the duties that come with the position.

"A lot of four men are involved in pick-and-rolls naturally, so for him we want to get him screening and rolling to the basket," Pierce noted. "We want him picking and popping. The complete part of his game will develop as he understands how defenses start to read and play on him."

The Sixers are back in action Sunday against the Chicago Bulls, and Simmons is back in the starting lineup. He has plenty of time to work on the goals Pierce has set out for him before the team leaves Vegas some time next week.

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