July 12, 2019
During the Sixers' introductory press conference for their newly signed (and re-signed) players on Friday morning, there was an interesting development on Ben Simmons and The Case of the Missing Jumper.
While some may have been worried that after so many year the case had gone cold and there was no chance for Simmons to find that ever-elusive missing piece of his otherwise all-around game, teammate Tobias Harris provided an update that could restore hope to those who had lost it.
While working out with Simmons in Los Angeles, Harris, who recently signed a five-year, $180 million deal with the Sixers, said the two have been playing a lot of one-on-one.
And, according to Harris, he finally had enough of Simmons not shooting from the outside, daring him to take a three. What resulted was a bit of be-careful-what-you-wish-for situation...
Harris says in recent game of 1v1 vs. Simmons, he was daring him to shoot threes, only for Simmons to hit two in a row to force him to guard him out to the line— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) July 12, 2019
Of course, it could just be another red herring, like all those workout videos from the past of Simmons knocking down threes in an empty gym. But if nothing else, it's a microcosm of what Simmons needs to do on the court in NBA games — he doesn't need to suddenly become a knockdown shooter, he just needs to present the threat of being a shooter and force opponents to guard him closely.
Through two full seasons in the league, Simmons has yet to make a three and has only attempted 17 of them total. But it's more than that. Simmons barely attempted any shots last season from beyond 10 feet (just 10.3% of his total shots came from outside that range), and for good reason. He only made 25.7% of his attempts from 10-16 feet (down from 39.3% in his rookie season), and made just 10% of his attempts from 16 feet to the three-point line.
And that led to opponents playing so far off him defensively at times, that when he was out past the three point lines, defenders were close to the paint, causing a trickle-down affect that would at times bring the Sixers offense to a grinding halt.
If Simmons can simply become a threat to knock down wide open shots from the outside, it will cause those guarding him to play him more closely, which will open up the rest of the offense to allow more movement and, hopefully, more open looks.
Unfortunately, Simmons was reportedly working on his jump shot in past offseason as well, and has still continued to struggle shooting the ball in games — on the rare occasions he does decide to shoot. Some of this is about changing his mindset as much as it is about adding a new skill to his arsenal.
The good news, however, is that Simmons is still just 22* years old, so there's still time for him to adjust his game and solve The Case of the Missing Jumper.
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