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Improved 76ers may ease Simmons' NBA debut

AAP logoAAP 12/12/2016 Warren Barnsley

Philadelphia's stars may be aligning in time to unleash Ben Simmons onto the NBA.

The ever-struggling 76ers have recorded back-to-back victories for just the second time this season, with a 97-79 win over highly fancied Detroit on Sunday (Monday AEDT) their sixth victory for 2016-17.

The result against the Pistons - Philadelphia's first win over a team in the top-eight of their conference - backs up last week's 11-point win over New Orleans in their previous outing.

It's encouraging signs for the youthful Philadelphia, who welcomed back centre Nerlens Noel on Sunday.

Forwards Robert Covington had 16 points and Ersan Ilyasova 15, while centre Jahlil Okafor finished with 14 points for the 76ers.

Point guard TJ McConnell, standing in for ill regular starter Sergio Rodriguez, came close to a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

"Nerlens I thought came in and gave us something," 76ers coach Brett Brown said.

"I feel like all over the place, people contributed and ultimately it really was a team effort.

"In general, I think our ball movement over the past five to seven games has been very good."

The 76ers are hoping to unveil Australian No.1 draft pick Simmons at point guard next month when he makes his expected return from a broken foot sustained in the pre-season.

And the side's recent improved form could allow him to be free from the pressure of being tasked with turning around the fortunes of a battling franchise.

"I felt like initially to just say, 'welcome to the NBA, 19-year-old who's never played a point guard in your life, and here's the gym, here's the ball' was borderline cruel, was not very responsible," Brown told reporters last week.

"I think as time has unfolded, talking more with him, seeing the team we have, studying more and more and more what he actually brings to the table, I want to try it."

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