SIXERS

Viral Giannis video should teach Simmons a lesson

SIXERS

A clip of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo shooting a free throw went viral on Sunday.

No, it wasn't this clip of Antetokounmpo airballing a free throw in Game 3 of the Bucks' series against the Atlanta Hawks:

It was this clip of the Greek Freak in practice, part of a behind-the-scenes featurette from the team:

Here we watch Giannis sink a free throw, and then recount - with a smile on his face - the number of times he's failed in big moments, or gone on a cold streak from the line. Then he says, 'There's nowhere to go but up.'

What an awesome approach from a superstar who has a very clear flaw in his game: just keep shooting. Some will go in, some won't. Sometimes you'll be embarrassed in a big moment, and sometimes you'll hit a key shot, but never be afraid of what'll happen.

Antetokounmpo finished 6-of-13 from the line Sunday night and is shooting a paltry 55.1% from the line through 14 playoff games.

But neither the airball nor his general free throw woes stopped Antetokounmpo from taking 21 shots in Game 3, just three of which came from outside the painted area.

And his free throw woes haven't stopped him from attempting 21.9 shots per game each night this postseason, where he's otherwise averaged nearly 30 points per game on 54.6% shooting.

Ben Simmons needs to take a lesson from Antetokounmpo's approach here. Simmons admitted after the Sixers' ignominious exit from the playoffs that his struggles at the free throw line, and his reluctance to be aggressive on offense, came from something mental and he told reporters after Game 7 that the first thing he's going to do this offseason is "clear my mind and get my mental right.”

 

Simmons absolutely deserves time and space to work out the mental side of his struggles, because it's no small feat. Just like recovering from a broken bone, figuring out how to fix a mental block takes effort and time.

Ideally, Simmons will be able to get to a place similar to Antetokounmpo's mindset. It's not ideal if Simmons is shooting 55% from the line, but sometimes it is what it is. What the Sixers can't live with is Simmons not being aggressive elsewhere because he's afraid to fail.

If you miss, you miss. It happens to everyone. But in a league dominated by offensive genius, a superstar can't be afraid to miss that he doesn't take the shot in the first place.