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"A hint of Magic, shades of LeBron" in Aussie NBA prospect Simmons


Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown has compared Australian teenager Ben Simmons to NBA greats Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

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Brown, who was an assistant coach under Lindsay Gaze at the Melbourne Tigers in the late 1980s and 1990s when Simmons’ father Dave was a star power forward/centre on the NBL team, did not give too much away on Wednesday about how the 76ers will use their first pick in next month’s NBA Draft.

Simmons and Duke University forward Brandon Ingram are considered the top two candidates.

But Brown did rave about the 208cm tall, 19-year-old Simmons.

“He’s got a hint of Magic and at times you can see a younger LeBron where you are not sure what position he is,” Brown told America’s FOX Sports Radio host Colin Cowherd.

“One moment you think he is a four (power forward), maybe he is a three (small forward), he looks comfortable handling the ball.

“When you say ‘What is his identifiable elite NBA skill?’ most people will go immediately to passing.

“When you take that collection of comments and you add it into a 6ft 10 frame, the comparison to those two players could be a little reckless and ambitious, but there is no denying he really does come to the draft with a very unique skill package.”

The US-born Brown, who also coached the Australian Olympic team in London, has known Simmons since he was a baby.

Brown also was not concerned by some scouts’ negative assessment of Simmons’ shooting.

Brown, who was also an assistant coach at the San Antonio Spurs before moving to the 76ers, pointed to how James and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard were able to work on their shot after entering the NBA.

“I’m just very aware of Ben’s situation,” Brown said.

“I lived in Australia for a long time, I coached his father for five years, I’m aware of his junior coaches throughout Ben’s entire life and when you look at his form – no differently to when we drafted Kawhi Leonard with the Spurs – one of the assessments we had to make was ‘Was this shot transferable to the NBA? Was it a total rebuild or was it a little bit of a makeover?

“I think that his form isn’t one that you have to blow up and start over. I think it can translate.”

The 76ers won Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, giving the struggling team the top pick in the June 23 draft, with the Los Angeles Lakers choosing second and the Boston Celtics third.


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