Philadelphia 76ers star guard Ben Simmons has flashed a new and improved jump shot at training sessions with Chris Johnson and offseason pick-up games. Is Simmons finally willing to expand his game?
Simmons and the 76ers agreed to a five-year, $170 million maximum contract extension on July 15, which helps the team move one step closer to securing their future. The deal, first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, will keep Simmons and Joel Embiid together through at least the 2022-23 season when Embiid’s current contract ends.
Ben Simmons has to improve his shooting or he won’t be able to take the next step for the 76ers and since July he has been working out in Los Angeles with renowned NBA skills development trainer Chris Johnson. An Instagram post by Johnson revealed that Simmons trained with Jaylen Brown, Seth Curry and Andrew Wiggins.
76ers teammate Tobias Harris has also worked out with Simmons and this is what he had to say about what he’s seen from the star point guard:
“He’s in the gym religiously every day, grinding and getting better – he’s in great shape. Everybody was trying to figure out why I was guarding him at the 3-point line. It’s really because he hit two of them – I dared him to shoot two of them [3-pointers] he hit two in a row so, that’s why I was there. He’s made big improvements on his game – his jump shot is looking really good, he has the confidence to shoot it.”
Simmons and Embiid will be under team control for multiple years but the 76ers did not stop there and they also signed Harris to a five-year, $180 million maximum contract and gave former Celtic Al Horford a four-year, $109 million deal. Philadelphia also added Josh Richardson in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade with the Heat.
These moves give the 76ers a core that can play together for years to come and be competitive in the Eastern Conference. The contracts of these stars are set up to give the team long-term success and Simmons has to play his part and improve his game.
If the 76ers want to reach the NBA Finals, Ben Simmons has to take the next step and expand his shooting range. Simmons also has to get rid of his fear of attempting long range shots.
Not only has Simmons been a poor shooter but what’s more concerning is that he has refused to shoot 3-pointers altogether. He had just 11 3-point attempts in 2017-18 and six in 2018-19, which is unacceptable.
Last season Simmons only shot from beyond the arc when he was forced to due to a lack of time on the clock and his hesitation to attempt 3-pointers allowed opponents to dictate his offense. While this did not stop him from becoming an NBA All-Star in 2018-19, it can hold him back from helping the 76ers make a deep playoff run.
Even if he misses most of his shots, Simmons has to at least attempt 3-pointers from time to time to keep defenses honest. Simmons has been shooting from downtown in the offseason but with his form still lacking improvement, only time will tell if he really makes an effort to evolve. Having a jump shot can help Simmons’ game tremendously and the 76ers would be even more dangerous.