March 08, 2019
Philadelphia native Kobe Bryant sure loved to shoot the ball when he was an NBA player, so it’s no surprise that Ben Simmons’ game baffles him.
This season, Simmons has taken 88.3 percent of his shots 10 feet from the hoop or closer. He doesn’t shoot the ball very well on pull-up opportunities — just a 20.9 percent effective field goal percentage — and teams almost literally dare him to take threes.
Bryant thinks this should change, and in an interview with Melbourne paper The Herald Sun, the Lakers legend gave the Sixers’ large point guard some advice:
“He’s got to get a jump shot,’’ Bryant said. “It sounds stupid and all that but I’m dead ass serious.
“Because if not, he will regret it when his career is over.’’
He said Simmons ability to dominate NBA games without a reliable jump shot is “astonishing” — and also predicts the Melbourne product still has a bright future ahead of him.
“I think his development will come in shooting obviously,” Bryant added. “At some point he’s got to be able to shoot that ball. Jason Kidd, when he came in the league, wasn’t a great shooter, but he worked to the point where he became one of the best three-point shooters we’ve had in our league in history.
“That will be his next progression. That being said, even without that, he’s been able to dominate and take that city of Philadelphia to a place where it hasn’t been in a very long time.”
I mean, okay, yeah. Bryant’s not really going out on a limb here, but he’s also not wrong.
Simmons developing a moderately reliable jump shot would take him from All-Star and top-five point guard to one of the half-dozen best players in the world, period. It would turn the Sixers into an unguardable offensive juggernaut. It would behoove all parties involved.
Will it happen? Probably one day. Simmons has said he wants to work on his shot during the offseason, but he doesn’t want to rush it and sacrifice developing other parts of his game.
But the Australian isn’t even 23 years old yet. When Kobe was 23 years old, he shot 25 percent from three for an entire season. Players develop when they’re given time, and Simmons will be no different.