A number of Australia’s NBA contingent were on court for their respective teams’ season openers with Ben Simmons and Patty Mills among those to savour wins.
Australian basketball star Ben Simmons insists the Philadelphia 76ers are ready to compete with the heavyweight teams in the NBA.
Simmons and Joel Embiid will be the max-contract cornerstones of a franchise that has not yet reached the championship heights so many expected when they were drafted two years apart.
Preparing for his fourth full term in the NBA, Simmons says the Sixers are ready to hit the reset button in coach Doc Rivers’ first season running a team that netted them just the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and a first-round exit.
Former Sixers guard Josh Richardson, traded to Dallas in the off-season, lamented in August the underachieving season could be pinned on a lack of accountability from management to the roster.
Simmons said Richardson was right and the Sixers were not ready to compete for a title when the NBA restarted the season in the Disney bubble.
“We weren’t in a position to go into the bubble and win,” Simmons said.
“I think our mindset was off. Accountability is a huge part of winning.
“I think he’s definitely right. Bringing Doc and all of these guys in, Doc’s team, with all of these coaches around, the maturity has definitely risen with the team.
“It’s been great to see that and see guys be accountable for certain things, and come here ready with a different mindset.”
Simmons said accountability – the new buzzword in Philly – starts with the players.
“There’s only so much that can happen with players and coaches and that’s on the players to make sure they’re held accountable, and if they’re not gonna listen and do certain things, they’re not gonna win,” Simmons said.
“But I think it’s a great opportunity for us, being younger guys, to have somebody like Doc come in. We’ve got to get it done.”
Simmons says he’s 100 per cent healthy following surgery on his left knee in August that kept him from playing in the post-season. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds last season.