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October 26, 2016

Sixers' Ben Simmons: ‘I’ll come back when I’m ready’

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Ben Simmons is very closely associated with LeBron James, and you bet that the top overall pick reached out to his mentor after suffering a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot at the end of training camp last month. But it was actually another NBA superstar who Simmons initially reached out to after the injury: Kevin Durant.

Of course, there was good reason for this: The new Golden State Warriors swingman suffered the same injury a few years ago, which means he is able to relate to Simmons in a way that few NBA players can.

“He just said, ‘Listen, get advice from everyone, and you’ll be good,” Simmons said of Durant. “It’s good to reach out to people like that who have gone through it.”

It has been widely reported that Simmons is expected back sometime in January, which roughly matches up with the three-month rehab period most Jones fractures require. Sixers coach Brett Brown confirmed this belief by mentioning January as a target date before eventually walking back those comments.

While Simmons said that there isn’t yet a specific timetable for his return, there also wasn’t any discussion internally within his camp or the Sixers front office about him missing the entire season.

“There’s a lot of talk, somebody put that out there, but I’ll come back when I’m ready,” Simmons said.

“As soon as I can get out there, I’d love to play,” he earlier mentioned.

Simmons spends most of his days at the Sixers practice facility in Camden, working on maintaining strength in his upper body and doing other approved exercises such as single-leg squats.

A few weeks ago, Brown mentioned that the team is also having Simmons work on his shooting form (an area he needs to address regardless of his health) by sitting in a chair and shooting. The rookie forward confirmed that shooting -- an area that former Sixers walking-wounded Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel emphasized during their past prolonged absences from the court -- is an area he’ll concentrate on.

Simmons’ other focus while he’s on the shelf will be the mental aspect of the game.

“Definitely my shot and just learning the game and where I fit in different situations,” Simmons said. “I’ll be going over a lot of film.”

Simmons obviously expected to be on the court Wednesday night. Heck, he’s the main reason why ESPN decided to give the Sixers their first national television game in a few years.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Simmons said. “Obviously it’s not the best start of my career as an NBA player. But I’m looking at it as a positive.”


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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