The Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons  poses for a photograph during  the NBA team's media day. Picture: Photo/Chris Szagola
The Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons poses for a photograph during the NBA team's media day. Picture: Photo/Chris Szagola

Simmons makes pre-season confession at team's media day

BEN Simmons kicked off Philadelphia's pre-season media day with a series of shock admissions about where his shooting development was at.

The 2018 NBA rookie of the year admitted he was still "nowhere near" where he would like his shot to be.

Despite Simmons guiding his team to the Eastern Conference semi-finals against Boston, his jump shot continued to be his Achilles heal during his debut season.

That was not about to change any time soon, he admitted.

The 22-year-old Aussie said on Saturday (AEST) he had never previously been able to work on his unreliable shooting action - a bonkers revelation considering his shooting weakness was pointed out by scouts during his college basketball season with Louisiana State University.

"Honestly, I've never needed to shoot," Simmons said after his pre-season press conference at the Sixers' media day.

"I've never had somebody teach me how to shoot. It's something I'm new at so I have all these people saying I can't do this. Well, obviously I can't because it's something I'm new at.

"So really this is the first time I've had time to practise it and work on my shots."

He then admitted to ESPN in another interview that his shot was "nowhere near close" to where he wanted it to be.

"Nowhere near close. This is the second year I've been playing. Really it's the first time I've worked on my jumper and had the whole summer to work on it," he said.

"It takes time. It's not like I'm just going to come out here and start draining threes."

Simmons is set to turn the 76ers into must-see TV next season.

But he also hopes to have another smash hit off the court. NBC has given a script commitment to Brotherly Love, which is loosely based on the life of the Aussie-born NBA rookie of the year.

The Deadline news website described the pitch like this: "Brotherly Love is inspired by the life of Ben Simmons and centres on a unique sibling relationship within a multi-ethnic family. Together, they pursue their dreams while navigating life in the spotlight in Philadelphia, a passionate city where sports is in your blood, and your blood is always boiling."

Don't touch that dial - well, unless the 76ers are on.

"It's just funny because a lot of people probably pitch their lives and think everything should be a TV show," Simmons said Friday.

"We brought it to life. (My brother) wrote something up, pitched it to a few different people. NBC loved it and went with it. It's really going to be about our relationship and how things just happen.

"It's more of a comedy-sitcom type of show. It will be pretty funny. Hopefully, that goes through and works out."

Oh, and LeBron James (through SpringHill Entertainment) is listed as an executive producer.

The 76ers were shooting for Ben & Bron.

The Sixers met with James' representatives just hours before the free-agent signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, the brief flirtation enough to make the organisation think they might have a shot at the NBA great.

"I feel like he could have been a great piece to add to get us where we need to be," All-Star centre Joel Embiid said.

So the 76ers will try to win their first NBA title since 1983 without The King.

But with Embiid, Simmons and 2017 No.1 NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz aboard, the Sixers believe they can top the 52 wins and a playoff series win from a year ago as they chase a championship.

Embiid, speaking at 76ers' media day, said a successful season would be "an appearance in the NBA finals."

That's a pretty lofty goal for a franchise that made no meaningful off-season additions and just this week named 39-year-old Elton Brand, who retired only two years ago, as general manager.

Aussies Brett Brown and Ben Simmons will be must-watch in 2018.
Aussies Brett Brown and Ben Simmons will be must-watch in 2018.

"I just remember dunking on him really bad," Embiid said. "That's crazy it was two years ago."

Coach Brett Brown expected a dominant season out of Embiid (22.9 points, 11 rebounds) and Simmons, whose friendship with Kendall Jenner made TMZ headlines this summer. He spent the off-season working on his jumper.

"I've never been on a team where I have to take shots," Simmons said.

But the player who can make the most impact as a pseudo-newcomer is Fultz. Bordering on bust territory after just one season, Fultz had his rookie year derailed by a mysterious shoulder injury, a broken shot and confidence issues.

He played the first four games, missed 68 games because of the injury and was benched in the playoffs against the Celtics.

Fultz struggled with his mechanics when he played, and his shooting form was widely mocked around the NBA.

Even his personal trainer, shooting coach Drew Hanlen, said Fultz suffered from the "yips" and "completely forgot how to shoot." The 20-year-old Fultz said Hanlen used a "misterm in words".

"What happened last year was the injury, let me get that straight," Fultz said.

"It was the injury that happened that didn't allow me to go through a certain path that I need to to shoot the ball. Just like any normal person, when you're used to doing something the same way each and every day and something happens, of course you're going to start thinking about it. It's just normal."

Fultz took about 150,000 shots this summer and reworked his form to prove he's ready join Embiid and Simmons on the Big Three.

"This summer was really just me working to get my mechanics back, my confidence back, my swagger back," Fultz said.

The Sixers need it all - the swagger, the shots, the early success that can propel them toward Eastern Conference contention.

The franchise that won just 10 games three seasons ago is now on the cusp of becoming an elite team.

"It's going to be a great year," Embiid said.

- with AP



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