Ben Simmons credits Brett Brown for gutsy point-forward experiment
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown had a choice to make before the start of the NBA season: Play veteran point guard Jerry Bayless or T.J. McConnell at the position, or yield the most of his talented rookie Ben Simmons and his unmatched vision by playing the first 6-foot-10 forward as the team’s floor general.
Brown opted to take the leap and went with the latter. The result? A 50-win season and a likely finish of third in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers are coming off winning perhaps their most pivotal game of the regular season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, giving them a half-game edge over them for the third seed in the East.
Simmons displayed his true potential and responded by having his best game of the season, a triple-double effort of 27 points, 15 rebounds, and 13 assists — adding in four steals and a block for good measure.
“He put me in position as the point guard, and I don’t think he thought it would work out this well as it has,” Simmons said of Brown, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “I think it is a lot of credit to coach for sticking me in that position and trusting me.”
The Aussie point man has flourished in the role, posting 16 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game through the season — likely on the verge of playing 81 games in 2017-18 after missing the entire 2016-17 season with a foot injury.
Simmons is likely to be the focal point of the offense once again throughout the early part of the postseason, with teammate Joel Embiid expected to miss a few additional games with an orbital bone fracture.