Brett Brown: Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz Need to Improve 'Shooting and Spacing'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2018

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 16: Ben Simmons #25 and Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers high five during the game against the Boston Celtics on October 16, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown echoed the sentiments of many Sixers fans when he offered his assessment of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz as a pair.

Brown told reporters Tuesday that Simmons and Fultz must improve their "shooting and spacing" when playing together, per Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times.  

The concerns about Simmons' shooting are nothing new. He shot 1-of-3 from beyond the arc in his only season at LSU and was 0-of-11 on three-pointers with Philadelphia in 2017-18.

Simmons is such a good rebounder, defender and playmaker that he can become an All-Star even without long-range shooting. But his inability to stretch the floor has the potential to hold back the Sixers on offense and could limit his value in a seven-game playoff series.

According to NBA.com, Simmons' offensive rating fell from 108.9 in the 2017-18 regular season to 106.1 in the 2018 postseason.

The increased role of Fultz compounds the problem Simmons' limited offensive game presents.

Fultz worked with Drew Hanlen in the offseason to improve his shot, but the results are mixed so far. The second-year guard is shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from deep.

In a since-deleted tweet, Hanlen indicated Fultz may not be at 100 percent (h/t 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia):

975TheFanatic @975TheFanatic

Here is the Drew Hanlen tweet that @975Mornings just referenced in their last segment https://t.co/omf4giXDkG

Brown discussed that tweet Tuesday, per Dave Uram of KYW Newsradio:

Dave Uram @MrUram

“We wished he didn’t.” #Sixers head coach Brett Brown would’ve preferred Drew Hanlen didn’t Tweet what he did about Markelle the other day. Even so, the head coach and Fultz insist there’s no significant injury. https://t.co/YOYARUJRWv

Of the two, Fultz is the far bigger issue for Philadelphia.

Bleacher Report's Yaron Weitzman discussed the topic at length, arguing Fultz is not only struggling as a long-range shooter but also failing to be aggressive inside of the three-point arc. It's as if the Sixers are playing with four players offensively sometimes, such is Fultz's negative impact on that end of the floor.

As a team, the Sixers are tied for 11th in made three-pointers (11.2 per game) but are 22nd in three-point percentage (.339). Philadelphia can acquire a proven sharpshooter or two and improve its spacing, but that won't fully address the questions raised by Fultz's lack of confidence and consistency with his jumper.

When the Sixers traded up to select Fultz with the first overall pick of the 2017 draft, it looked like one of the final steps in the franchise's long-term process to build a title contender.

A little over a year later, one can reasonably start to wonder whether Fultz is a fit with Simmons and Joel Embiid.


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