Thursday, September 22, 2022

Ex-Sixers star Ben Simmons says he’ll shoot three-pointers with Brooklyn Nets

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The only seemingly certainties in life are death, taxes, and Ben Simmons promising to take a jump shot. Philadelphia 76ers fans are fairly familiar with the cycle of offseason workouts featuring Simmons’ three-pointers simply because it doesn’t carry over to live games. In his four seasons in the NBA, the former No. 1 overall pick has attempted just 34 three-pointers, with the most occurring in a season (11) in his rookie year. He’s connected on just five of those three-point attempts. Sitting down with JJ Redick on the latest episode of The Old Man and the Three, the LSU product discussed his perceptions and how the conversations about his inability to shoot bothered him, which can be seen in the clip below.

Perimeter shooting and three-point production are becoming increasingly important in the modern NBA. The NBA average of three-point attempts per game has increased every year since the 2010-11 season. While some players don’t bet on long shots and still succeed, Simmons’ ball-dominating nature becomes difficult without the threat of a jump shot.

After several minutes of discussion about his relationship with three-pointers, Redick asked the new Nets guard directly if he would try three-pointers this year. The two laughed at the question, but Simmons replied, “Yes, I have to. I just have to go out there and hang something up.”

It’s difficult to gauge Simmons’ true feel for this, but Redick highlighted how his lack of three-point shooting often overshadows the things he does well. Redick, on the other hand, was known for his three-point ability, connecting with the Sixers on 433 distance attempts as Simmons’ teammate.

While three-point shooting was often considered the biggest hole in his game, that wasn’t the only problem with Simmons’ game. The former number one in the standings has clearly regressed since first entering the league. As a rookie, Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. During his senior year in Philadelphia and when he last stepped on the court in 2020-21, Simmons averaged just 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. While those are still solid numbers, the failure to continue to develop into the star he was hoped to be left a sour taste in the mouths of Philadelphia faithful.

Statistics can sometimes be deceiving, but the lack of aggression in Simmons’ game was striking. If he had kept attacking the color and upped the pace in turns like he did initially, the lack of perimeter shooting wouldn’t have been so bad. The highlights of his summer league performances and early games with the Sixers still leave fans frustrated with what could have been.

As Simmons and the Sixers continue in their different directions, there are plenty of reasons for optimism about both. Simmons will be surrounded by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who will be more than willing to do his share of recordings. The Nets also don’t have a post-oriented player like Joel Embiid who could give him more space to attack the basket. In many ways, the Sixers asked him to be something that didn’t come naturally to him, and Brooklyn will have a more comfortable role for DPOY’s runner-up.

For the Sixers, they managed to flip Simmons for Harden in hopes he’ll be Embiid’s ideal co-star. While there are questions about Harden as well, it seems like a more concrete gamble than hoping Simmons improves.

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