The NBA Summer League circuit is about to get a lot more interesting due to the biggest name in free agency finally off the board. Ben Simmons, the number one overall pick, had the Philadelphia 76ers worried with a minor injury, while the Boston Celtics liked what they saw from Jaylen Brown.
Simmons, the fourth big man to get picked by the Sixers in four years with their first pick, scored 10 points to go with 8 rebounds and 5 assists in a 102-94 loss against the Boston Celtics. He played for 23 minutes as the Sixers took the court for the first time in Salt Lake City, and cramps in both his legs meant he left early in the fourth quarter, and won’t play in the Sixers next game against the San Antonio Spurs summer league team.
Simmons disappointed with his 2-for-9 shooting as he made his unofficial NBA debut, but did impress with his passing ability, vision and tendency to push the ball up the floor after grabbing a rebound. The Sixers have traditional big men, plenty of them. Simmons is a more modern hybrid, and before the Sixers figure out how they make the Noel-Okafor-Embiid-Simmons thing work, they need to see what Simmons can do, and can he live up to the expectations from his year with LSU and before.
Simmons played for the first time since March 12, so the cramping isn’t that surprising. Simmons said he might have not been drinking enough. His best sequence came in the second quarter, with a nice cross court drive and assist, followed by an impressive one-touch pass from the high post to set up an easy dunk. He built up a nice passing highlight reel, and if a comparison had to be made, Arvydas Sabonis would be the one.
Jaylen Brown, the third overall pick, also took part of the game. The Celtics did most of their damage with the more experienced backcourt of Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter, combining to score 35 points. Meanwhile, Brown made his NBA debut with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, doing most of his damage from the line, making 11-of-17 shots. A lot of eyebrows were raised when the Celtics took Brown with their first pick, and he has the summer league to show signs of why Danny Ainge did what he did.
Other impressive players were Vander Blue, scoring 23 points for the Dallas Mavericks in their loss to the Orlando Magic White team; Nick Johnson scoring 19 points for the Orlando Magic Blue team in their loss to the Detroit Pistons;Semaj Christon finishing with 23 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Charlotte Hornets; and Kyle Anderson, entering his third season in the NBA, scoring 25 points for the San Antonio Spurs in their win against the Utah Jazz.