As the milestones mount for Ben Simmons, so do the plaudits.
On the day the Australian became the second NBA player to reach 1200 points, 600 rebounds and 600 assists in a rookie season, the legendary Julius Erving delivered high praise.
“(He’s a) once-in-a-decade, maybe once-in-a-lifetime-type player,” Erving said.
Simmons started Wednesday’s (AEST) game against Brooklyn 13 points shy of the milestone before a third-quarter basket put him in a stratosphere only previously occupied by Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (1960-61).
Simmons recorded his 36th double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the 121-95 win.
The 21-year-old had 12 points by halftime and sat out the final quarter as the Sixers held a 21-point advantage at the end of the third.
“(He’s) able to make everybody better immediately each and every time down the floor, guys are spotting up or looking to cut or keying off of triggers that come out of his handling skills,” Erving told Philadelphia media after having his statue unveiled outside 76ers training headquarters.
“Sometimes it looks like he’s got eyes in the back of his head.”
The win was the Sixers’ 11th straight as they consolidated fourth spot in the Eastern Conference to remain bound for their first play-offs in six years with five games to finish the regular season.
Guard JJ Redick top-scored with 19 points for the Sixers, while Simmons shared rare court time with fellow No.1 draft pick Markelle Fultz, who chipped in 10 points, with All Star centre Joel Embiid absent through injury.
The team was unable to overtake third-placed Cleveland, which beat Toronto 112-106 to sit one win ahead.
LeBron James recorded 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Cavaliers’ ninth win in 10 games, preventing the Raptors extending their two-win lead atop the conference.
Meanwhile, Boomers centre Aron Baynes had 12 points for Boston in the 106-102 loss to Milwaukee.
Joe Ingles had 13 points and seven assists and fellow Australian Dante Exum six points in Utah’s 117-110 win over the LA Lakers.
Canberra-born Patty Mills scored 17 points for the San Antonio Spurs, who lost to the Los Angeles Clippers 113-110.