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Sixers’ Ben Simmons shows the ultimate faith in Markelle Fultz: ‘He’s making shots’

Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz

Sixers forward Ben Simmons has been encouraged by the progress he has seen in Markelle Fultz, a player who reportedly has given him nightmares off the dribble during practice sessions. Fultz has been working incessantly this offseason after coming back from a shoulder injury in his rookie year, showing glimpses of a new-and-improved shooting form after experiencing discomfort and missing 68 games last season with his injury.

Simmons, the reigning Rookie of the Year, posted 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. The latter thanks in part due to J.J. Redick’s hot shooting from distance.

Head coach Brett Brown intends to bring Redick off the bench as a spark plug with the second unit, giving Fultz the chance to start at shooting guard next to Simmons so the Sixers sport a backcourt with two playmakers instead of one.

“It takes so much pressure off me,” Simmons said, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “Just knowing we have three guys who can make plays at the rim helps tremendously.”

Simmons has already seen the major difference between Fultz’s rookie year and how he has handled his new role heading into the 2018-19 season.

“He’s making shots,” he said. “You need to go out there with a clear head and focus on what you do well. He’s doing that now, and he’s playing great.”

Fultz made his first NBA 3-pointer last week against the Orlando Magic in a preseason game, a corner triple coming from a Simmons assist in transition.

“I put a lot of work in this summer just to be comfortable shooting the 3,” said Fultz. “I’m confident I can make 3s, and I’ll take them if I’m open.”

It might take a while before Fultz’s reconstructed form could keep pace with Redick’s hot-firing long-distance bombs, but as far as he keeps on taking them, Simmons will keep feeding him the ball when he’s open.