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Ben Simmons Practicing Shooting for 1st Time, Believes 76ers a Top-3 Team

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons in action during Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics, Saturday, May 5, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

After winning the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year award, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons did something during the offseason he's never done before. 

Speaking with NBA TV, Simmons said this summer was "really the first time" he's had to practice shooting away from the basket:

NBA TV @NBATV

.@BenSimmons25 on work that he has put in this summer to improve his jumper. 👀 https://t.co/1KiMXhbPYY

Following some notable moves by the Sixers' competition in the Eastern Conference, Simmons told NBA TV he believes they are a top-three team and added what they must do to prove it. 

"Everybody being on the same page, and that's the same as last year," he said.   

It was hard to find fault with Simmons' debut season. He became the second rookie in NBA history to have at least 1,200 points, 600 rebounds and 600 assists. Oscar Robertson accomplished the feat during the 1960-61 campaign. 

The only knock against Simmons is a lack of range on his shot. The 22-year-old missed all 11 three-pointers he attempted and made just 56 percent of his free-throw attempts. 

76ers head coach Brett Brown told reporters on Tuesday he's not concerned about Simmons' shooting touch. 

“His jump shot’s not going to define him. At some point, it will sure help. But I have aspirations, ambitions for him where I want him to feature on an all-defensive team. I personally want to post him more. I look forward to using him as a screener and giving Markelle the ball and let him roll out of it, that Blake Griffin-sort of half-roll and go to dunk.”

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The 76ers went 52-30 with Simmons being limited to playing in the paint last season. They finished third in the Atlantic Division, behind the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics

The Raptors added Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who will be returning from injuries. 

If Simmons can add another dimension to his game, the Sixers will be able to close the gap from last season between them and those other teams in the division. 

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