‘Frustrated’ Simmons ‘looks lost’
PHILADELPHIA coach Brett Brown is OK with it and Ben Simmons is beginning to be OK with how it's looking, but Sixers commentators don't have the same faith in the Australian's ability to dominate a contest with superstar teammate Jimmy Butler on the same court.
Simmons' new partnership with Butler continues to be the big question mark hanging over the 76ers since their dramatic trade for the four-time NBA All Star was announced last week.
There were more than a few positive signs on Saturday (AEDT) as Butler finished with a team-high 28 points, shooting 12 of 15 from the field, as the Sixers held their nerve down the stretch to defeat the Utah Jazz 113-107 at the Wells Fargo Centre.
The victory has taken the heat off, but the issue of Simmons and Butler finding their feet as teammates remained one of the big talking points to emerge from Philadelphia's 10th win of the season.
Simmons finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists - but his struggles to make an impact on the game without the ball in his hands continues to concern Sixers analysts.
With Butler demanding more of the ball, there are concerns Simmons' offensive development could be blunted.
The 22-year-old was called "lost" and at risk of "disappearing" while the Jazz fought back in the second quarter.
Simmons and Butler began to show some natural chemistry down the stretch as they came from behind in the final few minutes with some clutch game-winning plays.
Simmons also tossed up a brave in-bounds pass from the sideline to Butler underneath the hoop to seal the game with 20 seconds to play.
The Australian admitted after the game he had found it "frustrating at times" as the team found its natural rhythm with Butler on the floor - but was comfortable with the direction the team was heading.
"It's been at times frustrating, just because you don't know what the team wants, or needs from you," Simmons said.
"This game I've felt a lot more comfortable, and know what coach wants from me."
Simmons also praised Butler and the partnership they are building together.
"He knows how to play the game at a high level," Simmons said.
"His IQ is very high. He's the kind of guy where the inbound play, where I threw it to him, that was going to happen before I threw it. Some guys you look at it and know it's really going to happen."
That moment will be enough to satisfy Sixers coach Brown and hold off critics of the Butler trade for now.
Brown even admitted before the game that the first third of the season would be "uncomfortable" for his team while they gelled.
"The ecosystem is rocky right now," he said.
"In an uncomfortable sort of environment. Not harmful, uncomfortable, where we're all sort of figuring stuff out."
Simmons perhaps has the most to figure out as they head to face the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday (AEDT).