CAMDEN, N.J. — Questions about Ben Simmons’ shot aren’t going away.
In fact, they’ll likely only intensify as we get closer to the season and the fan base doesn’t see the 23-year-old All-Star take a jumper in a game setting.
Three days into camp, Simmons has answered many, many questions about the subject. He didn’t appear to be happy with the latest question on Day 3 of camp Thursday.
When pressed if he’d made a three in camp, he answered very matter-of-factly.
“Have I made a three? Are you talking about in practice? Yeah.”
His teammates have been supportive. When asked how everyone looked, Tobias Harris gave a serious response before joking: “And Ben hit 20 threes today.”
Of all the questions surrounding the Sixers, it may be the question. You can probably put it ahead of any questions about Joel Embiid’s health or even if the Sixers have enough talent to make it to the Finals.
And let’s face it, it’s because it is critical to the Sixers’ success. Yes, Simmons is an extraordinary talent. He’s an All-Star and could very well factor into the Defensive Player of the Year discussion one day soon. But his being relegated to the “dunker spot” on the floor and having the ball taken out of his hands in favor of Jimmy Butler in the postseason hurt the Sixers.
The conversation truly has taken on a life of its own.
You know, because the groundswell of this thing is bizarre,” Brett Brown said. “I will say, and maybe you don't agree, but I'll say it, we got to be careful that like this still isn't the thing. You know, to me, he is a 23-year-old All-Star. It's hugely important, we understand that, especially in April, May and June. And we have to set the stage.
“But my center point, where I still see the world with him is I think he could be the best defensive player in the NBA. I think he has to feature on an All-NBA Defensive Team because he can. He's going to grow as a leader and a point guard that we talked about. And I think the other stuff is just going to just progressively evolve.
Beyond makes, Brown has emphasized that there needs to be a willingness to shoot.
It's just three days into camp but that willingness seems to be there.
“The good news, what everybody should hear is, for me, it is how many shots has he passed up?” Brown said. "And there aren't any. And I think that's massive. He hasn't passed up [any shots] and we study it, he understands what I think and what we're trying to do.”
The funny thing is, after Simmons was done speaking, Harris approached the scrum. As the assembled media had their backs turned to give Harris their attention, Simmons went to work. He took free throws and then threes, according to an NBC Sports Philadelphia producer outside the scrum. Apparently, Simmons made a bunch of them — one from “Steph Curry range.”
The famous refrain from Sixers fans will be that he hasn’t done so in a game. He knows it. We all know it.
He may have a chance to hoist a three in Saturday’s Blue X White Scrimmage at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. It’ll be a game setting and he’ll likely be left open.
The most candid player on the Sixers’ roster — and likely one of the most candid in Philadelphia sports history — let everyone know what he saw.
“I feel like he has a chip on his shoulder,” Mike Scott said. “Shooting that ball, shooting the three. Hit a couple today. He's great, man. He's still one of the fastest guys, 6-10 — he's a beast. He's a superstar, so follow his lead."
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