The minute Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons stepped on the court for his first professional game, he was ready to excel in the NBA.

“I feel like I’ve been preparing for this moment my whole life,” Simmons told USA TODAY Sports. “I put a lot of work in during the summer and when I was out all last season to get ready. There’s no secret to it. Just working hard.”

In the Sixers’ season-opener, Simmons had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists; three games later, he had his first triple-double (21 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists); and five games after that, he became just the second player in NBA history to record two triple-doubles in his first nine games, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.

Playing with the poise and confidence of a five-year veteran, Simmons already is the favorite to win the rookie of the year award in a deep rookie class. He is averaging almost a triple-double at 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists and is shooting 48.7% from the field.

“He completely exceeds his limited years in the league,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “I’m not anointing him a veteran because he still has a long way to go, but you just feel he isn’t a nine-game rookie.”