Sixers rookie Ben Simmons is steadily progressing towards making his NBA debut sometime in the near future.
Simmons hit the road with the team when they traveled to take on the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets, and was able to get some light workouts in prior to the games. The next step in his recovery is practicing with the team, and he briefly joined the team on the floor at their practice facility in Camden.
The 20-year-old Australian native took part in 5-on-0 drills for the first time since breaking his foot during training camp in September.
#Sixers Brown says Ben Simmons went through some 5-on-0 drills/Scripting today for first time, though not at full speed.— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 10, 2017
Although a light walk through doesn’t necessarily indicate a return to the court, head coach Brett Brown noted that Simmons was “cutting” at 80 percent, a more positive sign that they may be able to ramp up his rehabilitation in the next week or two.
#Sixers Brown said Brown cutting 'at 80 percent. It was a good day coming back.'— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 10, 2017
The Sixers’ plan for Simmons continues to be to groom him as a point guard, and he assumed that role at Tuesday’s practice, much to Joel Embiid’s excitement.
#Sixers Embiid says 'we played (Simmons) at point guard today. It's exciting. I can't wait to play with him.'— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) January 10, 2017
Embiid has every reason to be happy about Simmons’ playing in the near future, as the expected Rookie of the Year will benefit from his presence on the floor more than anyone else. Due to a lack of great guard play, Embiid has been forced to create more than half of his scoring opportunities within the three-point line by himself, adding to his high turnover rate of 18.2 percent.
Once Simmons joins the fold, the burden of creation won’t fall nearly as much on the Cameroonian big man, and he’ll be put in better spots to score. When running the pick and roll, Philadelphia will finally have a ball handler that commands respect from defenses in terms of scoring, which should result in easier baskets around the rim for Embiid.
The presence of Ben Simmons can open up so many more doors for this team on both ends of the floor, and with his debut in the not too distant future, it’s hard not to be excited about the rest of the season.