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Ben Simmons can be one of the NBA's best, says Dirk Nowitzki

Ben Simmons- cropped
Ben Simmons
Omnisport
NEWS
Modified 18 Feb 2020, 16:54 IST
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Dirk Nowitzki feels Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons has the potential to develop into one of the NBA's best players.

Australian Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in his second straight All-Star Game in Chicago at the Weekend.

The 23-year-old is averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the 76ers, while he also leads the NBA in steals.

Earlier in this campaign he drained his first regular-season three-pointer - with Simmons' shooting from beyond the arc often used as a stick to beat him with - and 2007 NBA MVP Nowitzki believes that is the only facet of his game preventing him from moving into the elite echelon.

"I love Ben. I got to meet him a couple of times. His potential… the sky's the limit," said Nowitzki, who was speaking at the Laureus Awards in Berlin, where he won the Lifetime Achievement prize.

"He's super, super athletic, he's got a great touch. He sees the floor, gets his guys involved. Eventually, I think we all know, he needs to improve his shot.

"If he improves his shot he can be one of the best in the league, best in the game.

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"Just right now people are playing off him a little bit and making him shoot.

"He's got the touch, the feel for the game that if he works hard, keeps improving the way he has – he's still young – he's going to be fun to watch for a long, long time."

Nowitzki brought the curtain down on his decorated 21-year NBA career after last season having been named to 14 All-Star Games and also winning the 2011 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks, where he spent his entire career.

Despite Nowitzki's departure, the future looks bright for Dallas thanks to two other Europeans - 20-year-old Slovenian Luka Doncic and 24-year-old Latvian Kristaps Porzingis.

Doncic has already taken on Nowitzki's mantle as Dallas' star and he was named as a starter for the All-Star Game in just his second season.

"Amazing," Nowitzki added of Doncic.

"He was voted a starter at 20 years old. He's been so much fun to watch and hopefully he'll stay in Dallas for his whole career and we'll have a lot of fun watching him, hopefully for a long, long time.

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"The way he plays, the way he reads the game, the way he scores – he's a great all-round player. He's super fun to watch.

"They're young still. Luka's only 20, Kristaps is 24. Hopefully those guys can build something and be together in Dallas for a long, long time and play on a high level.

"Of course, eventually they would like to bring a championship to Dallas, that would be amazing. We'll just see how they play off each other and grow together."

On receiving Laureus' Lifetime Achievement Award, Nowitzki added: "Of course it's a great honour to get the award for my lifetime achievement.

"I played more than 20 years in the NBA. I was trying to move the game forward.

"It's nice to feel that you're respected and accepted for what I achieved during my career. For me it's a huge honour. I'm glad to be here."

Published 18 Feb 2020, 16:54 IST
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