Ben Simmons 3rd rookie in history to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists

NEW YORK -- Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons recorded his eighth triple-double on Thursday night in a win over the New York Knicks, the second-highest total for a rookie in NBA history.

With 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists against the Knicks, Simmons broke a tie with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who had seven triple-doubles as a rookie. Oscar Robertson holds the NBA record with 26 triple-doubles in his rookie season.

Simmons also surpassed 500 total assists for the season in the Sixers' 118-110 win over the Knicks. Simmons, Johnson and Robertson are the only players to have at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in their rookie seasons.

"It's surreal knowing that the game's been played for a long time and so many greats have been through," Simmons said. "I've set a record with Magic and Oscar Robertson, which is surreal to me."

The 6-foot-10 Simmons helped lead Philadelphia back from a 13-point third quarter deficit against New York on Thursday. He had four assists in the Sixers' 25-9 run to close the game.

"People want me to be a scorer, or a player that I'm not right now," Simmons said when asked about his eighth triple-double. "I can score the ball, but I can also rebound and pass the ball. I'd rather do that and do what I'm pretty good at than force things."

Simmons, Joel Embiid (29 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) and Dario Saric (21 points, 12 rebounds) helped lift Philadelphia after a tough loss to Indiana two nights earlier. The Sixers (37-30) enter play Friday in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the fifth-place Washington Wizards and 1½ games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Simmons has been a key to Philadelphia's success all season. He and Utah's Donovan Mitchell are considered the two strongest candidates for Rookie of the Year. Simmons is averaging 16.2 points, 7.7 assists and 7.8 rebounds.

Before Thursday's game, Sixers coach Brett Brown lauded Simmons for his growth as a point guard.

"I'm so pleased that the organization, he, the coaching staff, had the courage to try him as a point guard, because let's face it, that was highly scrutinized," Brown said.

Brown said he wasn't ready to commit to the idea that Simmons would be a point guard for the rest of his career though.

"It's going to be a [point guard] or a [power forward]. That's where I see him. He's 6-10 and you could see there could be advantages with other four men, slower four men, trying to guard him," Brown said. "I think [power forward or point guard] is sort of where my mind is at, tilting more to a [point guard]."

Simmons told reporters that he "definitely" prefers to play point guard over the power forward position.

"I'll play the four, but I don't want to be predominantly in the four position," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, adding that he feels he can do "a lot more" as a point guard.

Simmons was asked if he'd share that sentiment with Brown.

"If he tries to, I'll let him know," Simmons said with a laugh. "We have such a great relationship that where I can talk to him. So I wouldn't be opposed to trying it, but if it didn't feel right then I'd obviously let him know."

If Simmons were to move to power forward for Philadelphia later in his career, injured Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz probably would assume the point guard role.

But that's not a decision that Philadelphia faces in the near future.

"Right now, I think I'm being the best point guard I can," Simmons said.