76ers

Sixers react to Ben Simmons' taking first legitimate three-point attempt

Sixers react to Ben Simmons' taking first legitimate three-point attempt

We all knew it would come at some point, we just didn’t know when.

Ben Simmons has had countless opportunities to take a legitimate, wide-open three, but in 135 career NBA games, he hadn’t done so.

Until Sunday (see story).

Early in the third quarter of the Sixers’ 143-120 win over the Lakers (see observations), Simmons casually rose up and took a three from the right wing. 

Me personally, I was getting ready to run the play and then literally I just saw the ball go over [my head] and then I was like, ‘Oh, s---!’” Joel Embiid said. “He caught me off guard. I’m in a position where I’m like, ‘OK … what just happened?’ 

“But I thought it was in. It was in and out. I wish it would’ve been in, but he’s been working on it. Every day we tell him, ‘You got to shoot it.’

Embiid’s reaction probably encapsulated how just about everyone who’s watched Simmons’ young career reacted.

As brilliant as Simmons has been in capturing a Rookie of the Year award and an All-Star selection, he’s received his fair share of criticism for his lack of a shot. At times it’s hurt the 6-foot-10 point guard as defenders — much like LeBron James, who basically sat in the lane Sunday — sag off of him, knowing he’s not a threat.

So why take the three now?

“I didn’t really think about it too much,” Simmons said. “I think I’m just being more aggressive, taking more open shots. Grow my game in that way. I think I’m getting there. It takes time, but I’m going to get there.”

Elton Brand has assembled something that appears to be special in acquiring Tobias Harris to join the team’s starting five. Harris’ elite shooting and scoring ability have added a unique dynamic, but Simmons has struggled in the two games since Harris’ arrival.

He turned the ball over nine times against the Nuggets Friday. On Sunday, he turned the ball over just twice and was more aggressive in looking for his shot, but finished just 3 of 13 from the field.

While the numbers didn’t bear it out vs. the Lakers, Simmons’ willingness to shoot should help this offense a great deal. As the season enters its final third, Brett Brown has spoken with Simmons about expanding his game and what it could mean for the team as a whole.

Apparently, that message was received.

A little bit like everybody. I was like, ‘OK …’” Brett Brown said when asked about his reaction to Simmons’ three attempt. “He and I spoke about this notion for a little bit in the past 24 hours. What’s going to happen in the third third of the season? How do we better help you prepare for the playoffs?

“We all have memories of the Celtics series. So somewhere in the middle we have a window of [26 games] left and I’d like to try some of this stuff  prior to the All-Star break and take off with it in the final third.

Don’t expect Simmons to become a three-point specialist overnight. For the season, he’s hit just 14 of 67 shots (21 percent) from beyond 10 feet.

He can learn something from the career of one of his newest teammates.

Harris is now an elite shooter from beyond, but he certainly didn’t come into the league like that. In his first five seasons, Harris took just 2.4 threes a game and hit only 33 percent. Over his past two seasons, Harris is over 42 percent and taking over five attempts a game.

Simmons doesn’t have to reach that level, but anything close would make him as close to unguardable as you can be.

“Just to see that confidence. For him to be able to take it, that’s the first step,” Harris said. “This is coming from somebody, my first couple years in the league, I wasn’t labeled a three-point shooter. The first step is confidence and then next after that is reps and continued reps. Once he starts being able to knock that three down, he’s going to be the full package out there.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Uh Oh: Stephen A. Smith is predicting HUGE things for Sixers this season

Uh Oh: Stephen A. Smith is predicting HUGE things for Sixers this season

Stephen A. Smith's track record of predicting things is suspect to say the least.

So it's with great trepidation that Philadelphia 76ers fans should watch the below clip in which he predicts an NBA Finals appearance for Brett Brown's club this coming season.

Smith made the prediction on ESPN's First Take on Friday morning while sitting alongside NBA legend Magic Johnson (the joke about tampering with Giannis may have been the highlight of the segment).

"The Philadelphia 76ers are going to the NBA Finals," Smith declares. "I'm going to defer to my man Jalen Rose when he points out that Boston arguably has the best perimeter shooting team. We can't ignore that. Toronto lost Kawhi, ain't nothing to discuss. The Greek Freak, as phenomenal as he is, the combo of not having a reliable perimeter shot combined with Malcolm Brogdon being in Indiana..."

"My attitude is, I don't like the fact that Philly lost JJ Redick, that's a big loss to me," Smith continues. "The fact that Boston no longer has Al Horford and the Sixers do, not only somebody to pair with Embiid but to spell him whenever he's out. I'm going to believe Ben Simmons has been working on his shot. I'm going to believe Tobias Harris doesn't have to worry about co-existing with Jimmy Butler and that's a plus. I'm going to believe Josh Richardson can play at both ends of the floor..."

"I'm a little suspect on their bench, but I think the Sixers are going to be playing in June."

On the bright side for Philly fans, it's not like Smith is making some bold proclamation here. FiveThirtyEight's prediction model actually gives the Sixers the best chances of making the Finals of any team in the NBA given the East's weaker make up than the West. In fact, they give the Sixers almost twice as good a chance of doing so than the next closest Eastern contender the Bucks (54% vs. 27%).

So Stephen A. isn't going out on a limb, but it never feels great when he picks your squad in anything.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers tease new red Statement jerseys that differ from last season's

76ers_red_statement_jersey.jpg
@ChrisHeck76

Sixers tease new red Statement jerseys that differ from last season's

The Sixers' Statement Edition jerseys last year were the red uniforms that said "Sixers" across the front in an interesting script. It appears those jerseys will be different for the 2019-2020 season.

Chris Heck, President of the Sixers and Mr. #OnBrand, tweeted out an image of the new jerseys that look quite similar to last season's but instead of "Sixers" across the front they have the familiar "Phila" in script.

Give it a look below:

The jerseys also have the familiar stars down the side of the jersey. The team hasn't made an official announcement just yet so it's unclear what other details may have changed from season to season.

This Statement Edition will join the two regular jerseys, Icon Edition (standard blue) and Association Edition (standard white), alongside the recently unveiled Classic Edition jerseys that feature a throwback to the 70s look with that very interesting "Seventy Sixers" across the front and Ben Simmons sitting in a dope old-school car.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers