Seltzer's Notebook | Voluntary Workouts Leaving Vets Impressed With Simmons

by Brian Seltzer Reporter

High Praise for Simmons

Amir Johnson hasn’t been around Ben Simmons long, but he’s already seen enough to draw some pretty strong, complementary conclusions.

During a series of voluntary workouts that began at the Sixers’ training complex earlier this week, Johnson, a 13-year veteran, was given his first chance to see the 2016 No. 1 pick up close.

Johnson’s impression?

“I truly believe definitely Ben is going to be the future of this league coming down the road,” the big man said Thursday. “He’s been great.”

Johnson spent the past four seasons with the Boston Celtics, and signed with the Sixers in July on the first day of free agency. The 6-foot-10, 240-plus pound Simmons has wowed Johnson with his “freakish” abilities, and versatile skill set.

“The stuff I’ve seen him do just training, it almost seems like it’s not fair, man,” said Johnson. “You get a guard to switch on him, you get a big to switch on him, and he’s just an unbelievable athlete, unbelievable scorer, and an unbelievable passer. He can do it all.”

Another Sixer veteran, Jerryd Bayless, recently had positive feedback to share about Simmons as well.

“Ben is on the cusp of really figuring it out,” Bayless said this week. “I think Ben is young, still, and developing, but...he’s really put in the time every day, and I think he’s going to be really good.”

Simmons, meanwhile, reported Thursday he’s “feeling great,” and ready to go after a right foot injury forced him to miss all of last season.

“I’m excited,” Simmons said. “I haven’t played in a year. I’ve been playing pick up the last few days, so that’s been good.”

The 21-year old has also been doing individual work, too.

In his lone season in college, Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 2.0 steals in nearly 35 minutes for LSU. He then went on to post 10.8 points, 7.7 boards, and 5.5 assists per game for Sixers during 2016 summer league.

About These Workouts…

While Sixers training camp still might be a few weeks away (more on this in the section below), the players’ parking lot at the club’s practice facility has been filling up this week. On the heels of the Labor Day holiday weekend, a majority of the roster has returned to the area, eager (and willing) to hit the floor.

Brett Brown called the commitment of the Sixers’ players “tremendous.”

“They’ve come back early,” Brown said this week. “It’s voluntary workouts, per league rules. I think it’s reflective of the examples they showed the month of June. I’ve challenged all of our guys that career-best fitness still rules the day, and when I watch our guys come back, to a man...they did it.”

Newcomer Amir Johnson believes that the team’s desire to get a head start is revealing.

“You can tell guys are hungry,” he said Thursday. “You can hear the buzz around the city, people are excited about our team. For guys to come in early and get work in, you can see the focus.”

“I think it’s good building team chemistry,” said Ben Simmons, one of the players who’s been a regular in Camden throughout the off-season. “We have everybody back, everybody in the gym, and this time is great.

“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and just building.”

Training Camp Dates Announced, to be Held in Camden

The Sixers have announced dates for this year’s training camp, which, for the first time, will be held at their training complex in Camden.

The four-day session gets underway Tuesday, September 26th, and runs through Friday, September 29th. Only one practice will be held per day, a change from the past, when the club conducted two-a-days.

The last three years, the Sixers bunkered down at Stockton University - just a few miles inland from Atlantic City - for training camp. Brown’s first season in Philadelphia, in 2013, Saint Joseph’s University served as the Sixers’ training camp home.


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