Attempting jump shots has been the Achilles’ heel for Ben Simmons.
The 76ers point guard has passed up open perimeter shots frequently, as fans know well. Yet a lot of the team’s success this season could hinge on his shooting from the perimeter. He won’t need to hit a high percentage of those shots, although the Sixers would certainly take that. The All-Star just needs to take them to open up things for him and teammates.
“For me, it starts here and here first completely, the willingness to shoot,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “The time that he has invested over the course of this summer is the best by a long shot that he ever has.”
Simmons began working out with renowned trainer Chris Johnson this summer in Los Angeles. Johnson, who is still working with Simmons, has trained the likes of LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, among other NBA talents.
“His confidence [shown now] when he’s back [in] Philadelphia and played in our gym over the past few weeks just stood out,” Brown said. “It showed as if he had invested time and he was looking forward to showing us, showing his teammates, me, [and] proving it to himself.”
The coach has seen some fundamental differences in the 23-year-old’s shooting technique. But he thinks the biggest thing for the Australian native is the willingness to shoot.
Last season, opponents backed off Simmons when he had the ball on the perimeter. At times, they didn’t even guard him at all. That put the Sixers at a huge disadvantage with him as the team’s primary ballhandler.
As a result, Brown moved Simmons around in the offense during the playoffs, trying to get him looks closer to the basket and putting the ball in Butler’s hands.
Simmons, who is going into his third season, shot 73.3% at the rim as a rookie, but just 36.5% from three feet and out. That included missing all 11 of his three-pointers.
Last season, Simmons shot 70.1% at the rim and 38.5% from three feet and beyond. He missed his six three-point attempts.
“Might I in training camp have whoever is guarding Ben just go back to the paint and not defend him on a few, maybe?" Brown said of putting Simmons in situations that dare him to shoot. “I’m with him, and he is our starting point guard. He is my point guard.
"We are going to grow him as such, and this stuff when you have an opportunity to shoot will certainly be cheerleaded by me.”