Sixers’ Ben Simmons confident in his jump shot, but won’t take three-pointers; Markelle Fultz denies claim that he had the ‘yips’
"What happened last year was an injury. Let me get that straight," the 20-year-old guard says.
Ben Simmons' summer involved much more than a well-publicized relationship with Kendall Jenner.
The 76ers point guard had his annual basketball camp in his native Australia, spent time in Los Angeles and most importantly worked on his shooting with his brother, Liam Simmons, his new shooting coach.
The development of the NBA's reigning rookie of the year's shot is one of Sixers' biggest storylines heading into Saturday's start of training camp.
"I'm not going to come in and hit threes this season," Simmons said. "That's not what I'm going to do, but I'm going to get better."
He attempted only 11 three-pointers last season (mostly buzzer heaves from half-court and beyond), missing all of them.
"I have been working all summer," Simmons said. "I'm very confident with what I have been putting my work into."
The 22-year-old said his struggles against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs weren't motivation to work on his shot. He finished with just one point while shooting 0-for-4 from the floor in Game 2.
"It's just me personally," Simmons said. "If I want to be great, I have to work towards that. There's multiple times I say it's not going to happen overnight."
Once he realized that, Simmons, said he really locked in.
Also at Friday's media day, Markelle Fultz denied that he had the yips last season.
The Sixers' second-year guard spent this summer in California training with renowned shooting coach Drew Hanlen. Hanlen said in a podcast what multiple sources have told the Inquirer, that Fultz had the "yips" and "completely forgot how to shoot."
Fultz was asked about Hanlen's comments at media day and said, "You know, I think it was a miss-term in words, but me and Drew have talked. What happened last year was an injury. Let me get that straight. It was an injury that happened that didn't allow me to go through the certain paths that I needed to shoot the ball.
"Just like any normal person, when you are used to doing something the same way each and every day, and something happens, of course you are going to start thinking about it. It's just normal."
The 20-year-old played in only 17 games — regular-season and playoffs — last season. He played in the first four regular-season games before being sidelined for the next 68 with what the team called a right-shoulder injury. After showing some improvement in his shot, Fultz returned in time for the final 10 games of the regular season.
He played 4 minutes, 21 seconds in the first half of Game 3 of the first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat on April 19. However, T.J. McConnell took over the point-guard duties in the second half, and that proved to be Fultz's last playoff game. He played in the first two games of that series.
"Of course, that injury happened," Fultz said. "And people took certain things of changing shots and ran with it. But that didn't affect me. That's why I didn't come out last year, and try to go up against the media. I was just worried about getting healthy and getting back to what I had to do."
Meanwhile, Zhaire Smith has been cleared for full weight-bearing on his left foot, the team announced Friday.
The rookie guard has been sidelined after suffering an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone on Aug. 6. The 19-year-old, who had surgery Aug. 9, is expected to be available to play by mid-to-late December.
Rookie combo guard Shake Milton (back stress fracture) has been cleared for limited contact. Rookie shooting guard, Landry Shamet (right ankle sprain), has been fully cleared to play. In other news, the Sixers signed Emeka Okafor to a training camp deal.