Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons is a unique talent, but the long-running hot topic among NBA fans and the media is his non-existent outside game, especially his reluctance to develop one. It’s a criticism that has followed him since high school.
Everyone’s focus on Simmons’ outside shooting was at its peak heading into last season. He entered the 2019-20 campaign being a career 0-for-17 from three, and, as a result, was constantly disregarded whenever he’s beyond the arc. Here’s a quick sample:
The talks heightened further when Simmons finally sounded open on the idea instead of just being plainly dismissive. While at the preseason media day sessions in 2019, he was asked about the encouragement of then-Sixers head coach Brett Brown on taking threes, and he claimed: “[Three-pointers are] just part of the game … If it’s open, I’ll take it.”
It continued to blow up a week later during a preseason game, when Simmons stepped into a deep three-pointer and swished it, much to the crowd’s delight.
But, as we all know now, it didn’t really lead to anything. Simmons just continued to showcased more of the same. Though he did make two threes in the 2019-20 season, he was still looking uncomfortable from such a range. Overall, he went 2-for-7 from deep.
Will he ever extend his range?
At this point, only Ben knows. Maybe he’s simply old school and only prefers to take high-percentage shots all the time? Whichever it may be, what we know is he’s effective because he’s maximizing his strengths well, and he won’t force things on other areas just because people want him to.
Does he really need to?
The easy answer is yes. It’s obviously better to have a more varied style of play, which is particularly intriguing for someone in Ben Simmons’ size, who’s a very well-built, 6’10 point guard, a unicorn in the basketball world. We can only imagine how much of a headache he’ll be for defenses if he can hit jumpers.
New Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, however, made it clear that it’s not that big of a deal – at least not in the level that most are making out to be.
“I don’t care about Ben’s shooting as much as so many other people seem to care about it … I care that he’s a great player, and I’m gonna let him play. I mean, give him the keys and let him be free and play.”Doc Rivers on Ben Simmons shooting threes
Rivers is right, and we should probably recognize that Simmons is a basketball ‘Swiss-Army knife’ with or without a jump shot. Let’s not forget that he’s already burdened by a handful of other tasks on the floor, most of which are being done quite nicely. Not only is he downhill attacker with elite court vision, he’s also a bona fide All-NBA defender.