Ben Simmons sank a three-pointer.
It might be one small step for an NBA player, but it was a giant leap for the Australian Philadelphia 76ers’ star when he calmly dropped a long bomb in the 144-86 exhibition game demolition of China’s visiting Guangzhou Loong-Lions on Tuesday.
It was Simmons’ first successful three-pointer and may be a sign he is ready to erase the one major weakness in his otherwise exceptional game.
He failed to sink a three-pointer in his first two NBA seasons and was reluctant to try jump shots outside the key.
This did not stop him from claiming Rookie of the Year in 2017/18, being named an All-Star last season and picking up so many triple-doubles he was in the company of greats Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
Simmons skipped Australia’s recent World Cup campaign to concentrate on improving his game and it was on show against the hapless Lions.
First he displayed some Steph Curry like handles dribbling the ball.
Then midway in the second quarter the 76ers ran a play for Simmons, but his fade away jump shot bounced off the rim.
The three-pointer came in the final seconds of the first half.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) October 9, 2019
With the Philadelphia crowd and team-mates egging him on to shoot a three-pointer, Simmons calmly held the ball and then launched it.
The Wells Fargo Centre erupted and the 76ers mobbed a smiling Simmons.
The crowd also witnessed Simmons’ usual bag of tricks – thunderous dunks and pinpoint passes.
Simmons had 19 first-half points.
He finished with 21 points, connecting with nine of 14 field goals, and eight rebounds and seven assists.
The 76ers, after losing last year’s starters JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, debuted new signings Al Horford and Josh Richardson.
Horford had eight points and two rebounds while Richardson showed his scoring ability with 16 points, including sinking three of five three-pointers.
The 76ers’ other Australian, Jonah Bolden, had six points.