“Any conversation about weaknesses starts with his jumper. He showed little confidence in his shooting ability, and opponents took notice. Defenders would eventually begin to sag in an attempt to take away the drive and bait him into pulling up. Simmons would often pass on open jumpers to either give up the ball or force a drive.”
This was Jonathan Wasserman’s scouting report on Ben Simmons before the ’16 NBA Draft. Unfortunately for the 76ers, everything Bleacher Report’s scout/draft analyst wrote about the Australian then is applicable five years into Simmons’ NBA career. Then why is the whole community stunned by his shooting struggles in this year’s playoffs? According to Scottie Pippen, it shouldn’t be.
Y’all know he can’t shoot. Y’all know he don’t look to shoot in the fourth quarter. You know he’s afraid to go to the foul line, he don’t wanna be humiliated, so what are you asking me? I’m not against Ben Simmons. But I think he is who he is.Scottie Pippen, GQ
To be fair, people are more shocked with his lack of aggression on the offensive end. But the 6x NBA champion made a good point — Simmons’ refusal to attack the rim derived from his fear of potentially having to go to the free-throw line when his confidence already hit an all-time low. And while Ben needs to be held accountable for his foul shooting woes, Scottie also blames Doc Rivers for waiting until Game 7 to make the necessary adjustment.
Doc kept putting him in the game, he kept letting that team do fouls on him. Take him out the game! The Lakers did it with Shaq, and he’s bigger and more dominant and probably more fearless than Ben Simmons. Doc made him be a failure.Scottie Pippen, GQ
Recent reports on Simmons point to one thing — the 24-year-old point guard is done being “a failure” and is ready to improve as a jump shooter. But even if he doesn’t, with his size, athleticism, and natural feel for the game, he can still be a dominant force in the league.
Take Giannis Antetokounmpo, for example — the guy is the 2x MVP and one of the best players in the NBA without a reliable jump shot. That’s the type of player Simmons should strive to be, assuming his jumper is broken beyond repair. The obvious question is, why hasn’t he opted for such playstyle in the first place? That’s where Pippen hit the nail on the head, describing the key difference between Giannis and Simmons.
That’s his weakness: shooting the basketball. If you take that away from Ben Simmons, he got no weakness. That’s Giannis’ weakness, too. But, Giannis don’t mind being humiliated. That’s the difference between him and Ben Simmons. Giannis will go to the free-throw line and shoot two fuc*ig airballs and come right down the court the next time and try and dunk on you. If Ben Simmons miss a free throw, he gonna start passing it before he get to the free-throw line on the other end.Scottie Pippen, GQ
Simmons should work on his jump shot, no doubt about it. But the most important adjustment he should make this offseason is adopting the I don’t care mentality Giannis is known for. Not just from the charity stripe, but from anywhere on the floor.
The only thing worse than incompetence is fear. Getting rid of the latter is the key for Simmons to finally unlock his NBA potential.
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