Ben Simmons is an astounding athlete. At 6’10” (Coach Brett Brown claims him to be closer to 7’0”), 240 pounds, he has established himself as one of the leagues premier facilitators in the NBA at the young age of 23 and he’s also an unforgiving defender as he was ranked second among point guards in defensive box plus-minus with a positive rating of 3.6 during the 2018-2019 NBA season. The one flaw in his game that always comes to light is his lack of a jump shot.
Simmons’ shot isn’t bad per se but his refusal to even take jump shots on a regular basis limits his celling severely. This isn’t a hot take, I know, as it has been shown time and time again, especially come playoff time when both the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors have taken advantage of this over the past two postseasons by playing so far off Simmons knowing he will not take a shot, limiting the entire offense for the Sixers, If the Aussie were to even shoot 25.6% a la reigning MVP Giannis Antetokoumpo the defense would have to honor his willingness to shoot which opens up room for the rest of the offense.
This is why the second we see a hint of Ben Simmons shooting, NBA fans do one of two things; they either roll their eyes claiming, “it doesn’t matter” or that, “It’s not a real game”; but if you’re like me, you watch the video roughly 1,634,324,653 times while transitioning between giggling like a small child and dreaming about the season to come. But what’s the appropriate reaction? Is there some middle ground we should find? Well, this is Philly so the appropriate reaction is whichever one you have, BUT, when we break down the footage what do we see? What will objectively translate to the NBA and what is “propaganda” as some people call it?
We’ve seen two workout video of Ben Simmons drop recently and they’re not entirely different, both show Simmons moving, passing, and shooting fluidly with some either jump cuts or vomit-inducing fast-forwarding. Workout hype tapes with jump cuts are usually pretty misleading (looking at you Markelle Fultz), but we do see Simmons shot from jump to the ball hitting cotton. Watching each minute-long, video you see a player who is clearly very talented, who’s jump shot while not terrible (still looking at you Markelle), certainly doesn’t resemble any Splash-Brother or even a Splash-Cousin twice removed.
One important aspect to take away from the tape is the confidence with which Simmons is shooting; unfortunately, this is also what’s least likely to translate to in-game action. Confidence in his shot is what will make or break Simmons’ perceived improvement, something that is completely up to him.
An honest assessment is that two one minute highlight reels from a pick-up game is not enough for anyone to say that Ben Simmons will lead the league in three-pointers made or that he’ll repeat last years stats of being 0/6 from deep. The decision to shoot and the willingness to admit his game has a hole is purely up to Simmons; however, the beauty of fandom is the ability to celebrate the little things. The overreactions, the anxiety of Simmons’ “will they, won’t they” relationship with his jump shot, the dreams of a brighter season each and every year. Storylines like these make this part of the offseason where we’re essentially waiting for training camp and give those of us dying to talk Sixers basketball a chance to go crazy with anticipation of the year to come and for that, I will never be apologetic and neither should you.
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports