Simmons delivers blunt response to Kobe dig
BEN Simmons has offered a blunt statement when questioned about Kobe Bryant's take on the Aussie superstar's career.
Speaking in Melbourne earlier in the week, Bryant offered a piece of advice for the 22-year-old to achieve his incredible potential.
Bryant called Simmons "astonishing" for what he had achieved so far but said the Philadelphia 76ers' star should focus on a key aspect of the game.
"He's got to get a jump shot,'' Bryant said. "It sounds stupid and all that but I'm dead ass serious. Because if not, he will regret it when his career is over.''
When asked about Kobe's question, Simmons snapped back, "What's the question?"
In all fairness, he had just come off the court after a 107-91 loss to the Houston Rockets, but the Aussie was clearly frustrated by the continued focus on his jump shot.
"That's what people say in general, it's not just a Kobe thing," Simmons said. "I know that, I'm developing my game and trying to get better so ..."
The first Aussie All-Star has been haunted by the criticism of his jump shot since he started in the NBA.
It has long been a work in progress with the Australian using the jumper sparingly throughout his career so far.
Simmons had fans scratching their heads when he landed a shot with his right hand during his team's win over Orlando - adding fuel to the rumour he is actually right-handed and has shot with his wrong side his whole career.
However, he's still able to put forward stats of 17 points per game, 9.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists for the season.
One area he has no problems is in defence.
Simmons has pulled out an incredible series of stops to wow the NBA just days after his Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown backed the Aussie to win the league's defensive player of the year.
"I think that he has the chance, over his career, to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate," Brown said after the 76ers' loss to the Chicago Bulls earlier in the week.
"I think he does so many things that you just shake your head athletically. He's 6'10. Everybody sees what he does in early offence, pushing the ball one way. Have a look at some of the ground he can make up (defensively)."
Simmons, battling a stomach bug and was potentially going to be scratched after not participating in the shoot around, turned in a solid performance against Houston, registering 15 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in the 76ers 107-91 loss.
But a first quarter series of stops on James Harden delivered his biggest highlight of the day.
Harden is the NBA's leading scorer for the season with 36.7 points a game - more than eight points a game ahead of the second-placed Paul George on 28.6.
Simmons made a stop at the top of the key before Harden regathered.
Then, as he has done to so many other players, Harden went for his signature step-back jumper for three with the Aussie coming up huge and setting up a Tobias Harris dunk at the other end.
It was a brilliant block from Simmons.
The Aussie star also set up a crisp play for Jimmy Butler with a stunning behind-the-back pass, as well as a one-handed dunk.
After the match, Simmons was blunt about the performance.
"No, we're pissed off that we lost," he said.
"We need that win, we need a lot of these wins coming down the stretch. There's not too many games left."
As for what the issue was on the night, Simmons said it was simple.
"Defence, offence, energy. I'm not sure why. It starts with energy. If we have no energy in defence and offence, it's not going to be there."
Fans weren't impressed about the loss.
For Brown, in the eighth straight game without his All-Star centre Joel Embiid, he said the team were still trying to get on the same page.
"We are just buying time," Brown said. "Right now, I feel like we are just buying time and trying to get to the new guys more familiar in not really that long of a window of opportunity.
With Embiid out, Brown said it's a little more stressful than normal as the franchise player also needed to learn his role.
"I'm convinced that if you have your health and some type of rhythm of playing, you can navigate playoff basketball," the coach said. "In a perfect world, you'd have him here. You try to climb up and grab that third seed. You try to do all those things of course.
"But in the event, Joel's healthy doesn't come back as quickly as we had wished, it's still about the things I just said. Are you playing good basketball? Is the rest of the team healthy?"
Harden scored 31 points and gathered 10 rebounds to guide his side to the victory.