CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — An All-star selection and the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year Award has highlighted Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons’ career up to this point. But the 23-year-old is not done yet, especially after he signed a five-year, $170 million contract extension this past summer.
So where does the 6-foot-10 Australian see himself now as he enters his third year in the league?
“I think I’m an elite player at what I do and what I did last season,” Simmons said. “I’m locked in. I don’t know what it is, if it’s a switch or whatever it was, but I feel locked in. I feel ready, this [past] summer has been huge for me.”
The biggest question many fans and analysts have about Simmons is, when will he be willing to take jump shots?
For Simmons, he took the summer to work on every facet of his game, from ball-handling, floaters and even three-pointers.
“If it’s open, I’ll take it,” he said.
Simmons also addressed the notion that he “fell back in love with the game.”
He feels that was possible because he was able to block out the noise from the outside world and listen to people around him.
Simmons added that after the way last season ended, he took a step back and thought about what he wanted out of his career.
“It’s championships. I want to win rings and in order to do that I need to be one of the leaders and lead by example,” he said.
The third year of an NBA player’s career is when many take on a bigger role, and Simmons is no different. He has his eyes set on leading the Sixers to their first NBA title since 1983 and plans to let his game do the talking.
“I’d rather win [a championship] and see everyone on my team do well and win than any individual accolade, unless it’s Defensive Player of the Year,” he said.
The point guard averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, along with 7.7 assists in 2018-19, and was the youngest player selected to last season’s All-Star game. And with a new contract, there is no question for Simmons on where he would rather be.
“I’m happy to be here for another five years, I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Simmons said. “So I’m excited about what we have going on and I’m excited about the new guys coming in. I think we have a real special opportunity to do something major here.”
He added that after the constant change on the roster last year, this season feels better with having everyone already here and it also gives the team a fresh slate which can help them find an identity.
For a team with championship aspirations, it appears the right person is in the driver’s seat to lead the Sixers on a deep playoff run.