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'Best in the league' - Ben Simmons' lofty goal ahead of new NBA season

Ben Simmons may be one of the favourites to win this year's NBA Rookie of the Year title, but the Melbourne native has much loftier goals.

Simmons -- back home for a two-week break visiting family and friends, playing pick-up games, watching AFL matches, "doing touristy things," and hosting his very own basketball camp - is on the verge of finally playing for the Philadelphia 76ers after a debut season wrecked by a serious foot injury.

Ben Simmons. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
The 2016 No.1 draft pick is, alongside first-year Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, one of the hot favourites to take out this season's award for best rookie, but on Sunday was forthright in outlining a much higher ambition.

"My goal is to be the best in the league," he told ESPN. "I'm not worried about other rookies - I'm worried about the guys at the top, and that's where I want to be."

Physically, the 21-year-old, whose right foot fracture is now fully healed, said he was feeling great. He added teammate Joel Embiid, who was sidelined late last season due to a torn left meniscus, was also building back to full fitness.

Simmons said if the stars aligned, the Sixers were primed to finally break their six-year playoffs drought.

"Physically I feel really good, [I am] ready to play and get the season started," he said. "I've just got to go out and work hard ... and if everyone in the team does the same thing, I think we can do great things.

"Our goal is to get there [the playoffs] and win. We don't doubt each other, as long as we work hard we might [be able to].

"Joel [Embiid] is doing well - I actually worked out with him before I came to Australia so I know he's been working hard every day.

"We have a great young team ... I think we can do some great things, I'm looking forward to heading back to Philly."

Simmons is set to jet back to Philly on Monday, and despite the frustrations of a year missed through injury said he took some positives out of his debut season.

"There was definitely [some advantages to having a year off] - I've had a whole year to grow and learn and focus on what I need to focus on. I think that whole year has really helped me," he said, adding he needed to continue to work on "learning the game, scoring, defence ... everything."

Sunday's event was the inaugural Ben Simmons Basketball Camp for 10 to 18-year-olds. Simmons, only a few years older than some of the attendees, said he was more than comfortable being a role model for the next generation.

"It's amazing ... I'm very humbled to have my own camp and I'm glad I could do it while I was back here," he said. "It's the first time I've done it, [and I am] looking forward to having a lot more camps in the future, and spread it around the country, not just in Melbourne.

"I've always wanted to run a camp - I've been to plenty of camps with other NBA players and there hasn't really been an Australian player who's done anything like this. I feel like I am kind of responsible for some kids back home, and I feel like I can give back to them and teach them about the things I've learned over the years.

"I'm blessed to be in this position."

Author: Niall Saewang
Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/20472649/ben-simmons-wants-best-nba-player-world

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