Ben Simmons is still growing into his role in the NBA, and much of his development into a star-caliber NBA player is with the help of Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown. Brown has developed a rapport with his players, and Simmons remains a central part of everything they are doing with his point guard skills in a bigger body. This next summer, however, the two will be working even closer than they normally do.
The Rise of Ben Simmons
At 6-foot-10, Simmons isn’t just tall for a point guard, he’s tall for some centers in the NBA, too. First garnering attention back in high school, Simmons went to a less-than-stellar basketball program at LSU and still was able to carve himself a path into becoming the number one pick in the draft despite the team’s lack of success.
His skills combined with his talent made him a potentially generational talent, although his inability to shoot the ball in a league where that skill is increasingly important did put him at a disadvantage. Simmons was drafted in 2016, but he missed his entire rookie season with an injury. This missed year still allowed him to work with the team and fellow injury-riddled centerpiece Joel Embiid to prepare for his premiere in 2017.
Simmons wasted no time letting his presence be known in the NBA, breaking out with nearly 16 points per game, eight assists, eight rebounds, nearly two steals, and a block per game. He was raw, and his lack of shooting stood out, but it was clear that he had a place not only as an NBA player but a star. He won a contested Rookie of the Year award despite some questioning whether he deserved that status.
Last year, he took another step, and while his stats were mostly similar, he did so on a deeper team with ambitions not only for the NBA playoffs but the NBA Finals. The team got its heart ripped out by Kawhi Leonard. After retooling in the offseason, they appear to be ready to take the next stage.
Brett Brown and the 76ers
Brett Brown has been with the 76ers throughout what has both endearingly and jokingly referred to as the process. He saw the team through its seasons as a bottom-dwelling joke and built them up into the contender that they are today. Despite so many question marks regarding the health of its young core, Brown never let the seasons of bad rosters who could barely stay in an NBA game define him, and now he is one of the better coaches in the NBA.
Simmons is a major piece of what Brown has done, but the coach’s connection to his star player goes beyond the NBA.
“This is the real story behind it. Ben Simmons is the son of someone I coached for four years,” Brown said (per NBC Sports Philadelphia). “I was his dad’s assistant coach when I was with the Melbourne Tigers, and his mom was the head cheerleader, and then here comes Ben Simmons.”
Simmons quite literally grew up alongside Brown while his dad played overseas in Australia, and Brown speaks fondly of their relationship. By a combination of luck and skill, this relationship has paid dividends for both Simmons and Brown. The relationship will grow even deeper at the 2020 Olympics, too.
Ben Simmons and the 2020 Olympics
Brett Brown recently accepted a job as head coach of the Australian Olympic team. The team’s captain just so happens to be Ben Simmons, and after the team was able to shock Team USA this past summer, expectations for the team may be through the roof. Brown has refused to comment on his move back to Australian hoops, but the opportunity to coach there again, and do so with his star player by his side should be a special moment for both he and Simmons.