We’ve covered the topic of Ben Simmons’ jump shot a lot. Too much, one could certainly argue, given Simmons’ status as a non-shooting All-Star for the past two years.
It came up again Tuesday on a conference call with Sixers general manager Elton Brand, who discussed Simmons’ health and, inevitably, his reluctance to shoot jumpers, something Simmons had recently opened up about in an ESPN story by Jackie MacMullan.
Simmons had told MacMullan, “I could be one of those guys shooting 30 percent right now. But I'd rather be one of those guys shooting 40 percent."
Though Brand was sure to acknowledge Simmons’ talents and strengths, it didn’t sound like he was entirely on board with that philosophy.
Ben is a two-time All-Star, dynamic player on both ends,” he said. “We’re going to encourage him to shoot and I think once he unlocks that part of his game, it’s just going to open it up for his growth, become even more unstoppable and help our team. Where he is as a player, he is very dominant, very hyper-focused on both ends to help us win. And he wants to make the right play, and at times he feels like that might not be the right play. But he’s going to grow into that. I’m more on Brett [Brown’s] side with that. If he just shoots a few, it goes away, in my opinion.
Simmons is just 12 for 63 (19 percent) from eight feet and out this season, per NBA.com/Stats, with two of those makes his first successful professional three-pointers.
Analyzing the potential implications of Simmons’ shooting more is well-tread territory. It could alleviate some of the Sixers’ spacing issues, although it doesn’t seem probable that defenses would respect Simmons’ jumper unless he knocked a bunch of them down. There are ways outside of shooting Simmons can improve in half-court offense, too, including greater diligence about his off-ball movement, drawing (and making) more free throws and attacking sagging defenses. Again, he’s already an All-Star player and an excellent defender and passer, facts that shouldn’t be peripheral. We’ve covered these angles before.
Brand’s point about Simmons making “it” go away, however, is a bit different.
The idea of “Just shoot them, then we'll stop talking about it and it won't be an issue" might make sense on its face. But there’s now an inextricable link between Simmons’ shot and his identity as a player for most fans. That’s not illogical. Fair or not, he’s now the All-Star point guard who made two three-pointers in his first 214 NBA games.
If Simmons were to shoot a few three-pointers when basketball resumes and develops his jumper as Brand, Brown and the Sixers hope, we’d still be talking about Simmons’ shot. It wouldn’t just go away, but at least we’d have be discussing something new.
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