LOS ANGELES — The Sixers have not one, not two, but three players representing the team in Los Angeles during the 2018 All-Star weekend.
Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons will be teammates in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars game before Embiid moves on to the Skills Challenge and All-Star Game.
Each player likely will have different takeaways from the action-packed weekend.
Simmons making his mark
Simmons had been the front-runner for Rookie of the Year until the Jazz's Donovan Mitchell joined the conversation (see story). The two will compete on opposing teams Friday in the Rising Stars game, Simmons on the World Team (Australia) and Mitchell on the U.S. Team.
Simmons has more to show than just a matchup between first- and second-year players. He had been considered a candidate for replacement spots in the All-Star Game. Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic and Kemba Walker were selected instead.
Simmons is averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.9 steals in 34.9 minutes. He ranks third in the NBA with six triple-doubles, behind only Russell Westbrook and LeBron James.
Embiid playing student to All-Star vets
Embiid wants to take in as much as he can being around his fellow All-Stars this weekend. On his curriculum: observing tools of professionalism as he strives to be a leader at only 23 years old.
"I still don’t know how to be a professional," Embiid said last month. "I want to go out there, hang around them, learn from them, learn their ways, get back and help my team.”
That will include learning a bit from Team Stephen mate Draymond Green.
"Hopefully, I’m going to learn a little bit from him about trash talk because he’s one of the best," Embiid said.
Embiid was selected to the Rising Stars game, Skills Challenge and as a starter for the All-Star Game. His status for all three events is to be determined after he missed Wednesday's game because of right ankle soreness.
Hey look, Joel Embiid is at the Staples Center. pic.twitter.com/tleIsZULDw— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) February 15, 2018
Saric showcasing international pride
Saric traveled from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to show fans watching from around the world what Croatian basketball looks like in the NBA. He will play for the World Team for the second year in a row.
“To represent the world, to represent my country, to have a flag of my country on my jersey, for me it means a lot,” Saric said when he was selected. “Maybe I cannot bring tourists to visit Croatia, but in some way, I can represent my small, beautiful country.”
Saric has scored in double digits in his last 35 straight games. He averaged 19.4 points and 6.6 rebounds in the Sixers' sweep of their five-game homestand heading into the All-Star break.
In last year's Rising Stars game, Saric had 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting with five rebounds and four assists in the World Team's 150-141 win.