76ers

Ben Simmons' willingness to shoot jumpers could change everything for Sixers

Ben Simmons' willingness to shoot jumpers could change everything for Sixers

Ben Simmons notched his 18th career triple-double Saturday night in the Sixers' win over the Mavericks, but that’s not the big story.

Simmons willingly took four jump shots and made two of them. For most perimeter players, this isn’t much of a development. For Simmons, it’s huge.

But to his credit, this isn’t a one-game phenomena. Ever since the Sixers’ Christmas day loss in Boston, Simmons has been taking jumpers regularly. Save for the team’s win in Phoenix, Simmons has taken multiple jump shots in every game since.

While Brett Brown hasn’t been forceful, Simmons know how his coach feels about him shooting more.

His jump shot is going to come on his own terms,” Brown said. “Never have I pivoted away from saying, ‘Hey, I’d like to see a jump shot.’ I want to start growing him to corner threes …

“It’s coming. It’s coming and it needs to come. Tonight, he was [2 for 4] from longer shots outside the paint. So it’s coming, but it’s coming on his terms. He’s aware that we’re not going to do what we want to do unless he [takes jump shots]. To me, it’s not anything else but a mentality.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the loss to the Celtics seems to have served as a catalyst to Simmons’ newfound willingness to shoot. In their playoff loss to Boston last season, Simmons struggled mightily, largely due to the way Brad Stevens clogged the paint and basically dared Simmons to shoot.

The addition of Jimmy Butler should help the Sixers challenge the Celtics and the rest of the East’s elite. With that said, the Sixers’ three stars are an imperfect fit. Simmons expanding his range could unlock the full potential of the trio. It also makes the Sixers scary on the offensive end with the number of ways they can beat you.

No one can question Simmons’ court vision or athleticism, but adding a jumper to that arsenal makes him as dangerous as any player in the league.

I just want to get better,” Simmons said when asked why he’s been shooting more. “I’m not really worried about the immediate outcome. I think it’s just the start of something special in my game that I’m adding. I think it’s one of those parts of my game that’ll really separate me.

The reality is that Simmons still has a long way to go. One of the jumpers he took Saturday night was rough, missing the rim completely and hitting off the backboard. It’s one thing to take them and another to make them.

But Simmons merely attempting them should help. Even if the idea that Simmons might shoot is in the defender’s head, it could open more options. Simmons could then incorporate a believable pump fake. 

It may also dissuade Simmons’ man from doubling Joel Embiid so easily.

“He hasn’t been making it, but he’s been taking it. That’s what matters,” Embiid said. “I shoot 30 percent from three, but guys still jump when I shot fake — I don’t know why, especially because I say that I hate shooting threes. But just because you take them, people are compelled to guard that. He’s got to keep on taking them. Eventually, it’s going to go in.”

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Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Updated: 11:06 p.m. 

NBA fans are desperate for entertainment. 

With the season on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league is still aiming to provide some sort of distraction. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the NBA is planning to have a players-only NBA2K tournament, and hopes to launch the event on Friday. Haynes reports the tournament will include 16 players and last 10 days. 

This report leads us to consider who might represent the Sixers if they have a player participating. 

Let’s rank the 15 players on the roster based on what we know about them as people, athletes and gamers. (This ranking is highly unscientific.) 

15. Al Horford — The oldest on the roster and a family man. Video games don’t seem like Horford’s cup of tea.

14. Kyle O’Quinn — He prefers yoga

13. Zhaire Smith — Smith doesn’t often have a lot of downtime. “When I have an off day or something and I’m not doing anything, I’ll watch the Sixers. I try my best to watch them, but usually I’m busy,” he said in January.

12. Tobias Harris — You might remember what Mike Scott said about Harris in October: “He reads books.” That’s not to say reading and 2K are mutually exclusive, but Harris doesn't appear a likely candidate to be a great gamer. 

11. Furkan Korkmaz — Korkmaz spent a large chunk of this summer playing for Turkey in the FIBA World Cup and working on his game and conditioning. He can’t have taken much time sharpening whatever 2K abilities he has. 

10. Raul Neto — Neto’s a fashionable, polished guy. He could very well be an excellent gamer, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype.

9. Norvel Pelle — He found out that he was going to be converted to an NBA deal while watching a movie in his bed. Make of that what you will. 

8. Josh Richardson — As of two years ago, Richardson said he was “trash” at 2K. He at least plays and would probably have an idea of what he was doing. 

7. Matisse Thybulle — We saw Thybulle lose to the Suns’ Mikal Bridges on Friday night. Defense was, ironically, his Achilles heel. 

6. Glenn Robinson III — It’s a big stretch, but Robinson was on a young Warriors team for the first half of the season and might have some relatively recent reps against solid, young competition.

5. Alec Burks — Ditto with Burks. 

4. Shake Milton — This is mostly gut feel (not that the other rankings are much different). Whatever the competition, Milton's poise can’t hurt. 

3. Joel Embiid — Embiid was apparently good enough to crush Markelle Fultz. We’re not sure exactly how good that is, but it’s something. 

2. Mike Scott — Back in 2011, he claimed to sport a 21-3 online record in 2K. Though he said last year that he quit on the game because “they made me so trash up there,” he can’t have entirely lost those skills. 

1. Ben Simmons — Simmons is the Sixers’ most accomplished gamer by far and says he “can play any game.” He’s the clear pick unless there’s someone out there with a hidden talent. 

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Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Nineteen years ago today, the Sixers rose Charles Barkley’s No. 34 up to the rafters.

Barkley, who’d retired the year before after a stint with the Rockets, was touched by the honor. (You can check out footage from that night in the video above.)

“This is one of the greatest nights of my life and I’m honored to share it with you guys,” he said.

In eight seasons as a Sixer, Barkley made six All-Star games and averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. He made the NBA Finals with the Suns and was named MVP in 1993, the season after he was traded from the Sixers. 

The team unveiled a statue of Barkley on Legends Walk in September at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. Never hesitant to speak his mind, he doubled down on calling the Sixers the “stupidest organization in the history of sports” for having Joel Embiid play through a back injury last January and said not taking Brad Daugherty No. 1 in the 1986 NBA Draft was “the biggest mistake the Sixers ever made."

Barkley still looks back fondly on his time as a Sixer while acknowledging things often weren’t smooth or painless.

“This is not an easy city,” he said in September, “but it’s an amazing city to play in because if you bust your hump, they’re giving to give you nothing but love. Now, if you don’t bust your hump, you’re going to think, ‘Charles Barkley, you suck.’ You’re going to think that’s your middle name.”

As a footnote, the Sixers beat the Warriors on the night of Barkley’s jersey retirement for their 50th win of the season. Allen Iverson had 35 points and nine assists, while Tyrone Hill scored 21.

“You see someone as tough as Charles Barkley try to hold in his tears, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” Iverson told reporters. “It just looked great. It looked like something that I’d definitely want to be a part of.”

Iverson’s No. 3 would be retired nearly 14 years later. 

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