VIDEO Sixers' Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons practice shooting:
Although Ben Simmons had a great rookie season which rejuvenated Philadelphia 76ers and is leading R.O.Y. candidate by many insiders, it has become obvious to everyone, not just across the League, but also across the Globe, that he just can not fill it up from the outside.
Even though last summer he worked on his outside shot with no other than LeBron James, 6'10'' Aussie point guard missed ALL 11 of his three-point attempts and connected on only 56% of his charity stripe attempts during his amazing NBA rookie campaign.
After December 15th Philadelphia 76ers triple-overtime loss to OKC Thunder his inability to be more of an offensive threat for his team in important moments, especially in terms of taking (and making) clutch shots, was addressed by analyst Tim Legler, who was respected long-distance shooting specialist back in the 1990s.
Nothing changed since then. Just two weeks ago, in the midst of Philly's series with the Miami, Tracy McGrady was even more vocal, in terms of how should Heat stop Simmons:
'Keep bodies around him, make them see bodies, pack the lane, and get out to their shooters. He is not shooting the outside shot so you don't have to really pressure him on top. Make him come to you because he's gonna come to you. Just keep a body in front and make him see crowded bodies.'
VIDEO How to Instantly Improve Ben Simmons' Jumper: The Shot Mechanic
Lately, Simmons' weakness got so exposed that during the series with Boston some Celtics fans on Twitter had openly challenged him to 'dare to shoot a three during the series'.
In Game 2, Simmons was 0-of-4 from the field and scored just ONE point in the whole game! Although Simmons combined 35 points on 14-29 shooting in Games 3 and 4, Cs coaching staff continued to instruct their players to force him to shoot instead of drive to the basket.
It has become obvious that his jump shot is literally the only tactical element that is keeping Aussie phenom away from reaching superstardom, even this early in his NBA career.
Kobe Bryant is the last in the line of basketball renowned names who publicly addressed Simmons's weakness during his recent appearance on “Chris and Caron” on Fox Sports Radio. Lakers' legend was asked about the impact Simmons’ lack of a jumper could have on the outcome of Philly's series with the Boston Celtics.
"Just aesthetically I would say build that thing anew. I don't think the game came down to that though." - Kobe Bryant
Although Bryant claims that Simmons's lack of effective outside shoot is not hurting Philadelphia as a team, for an average 76ers fan it's hard not to believe that, these days, Ben Simmons with an effective jump shot would be just too much for Celtics to handle.
It seems that this summer 76ers assistant coaches will have their agenda filled out with corrective work on shooting skills of both Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons.
What If Ben Simmons could shoot the lights out like James Harden or Kevin Durant?
He would be at another level. MVP level. And 76ers?
They would be legitimate contenders.
Murray A. is BN contributor and the author of the book about legendary NBA guard Drazen Petrovic ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’