X

Elton Brand: 76ers Aren't Concerned About Ben Simmons' 'Work in Progress' Jumper

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons plays during an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Ben Simmons needs to improve his perimeter shot and be more willing to take those shots, period.

It remains the primary storyline when the Philadelphia 76ers' title chances are discussed, and ahead of the team's Christmas Day clash with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, general manager Elton Brand addressed Simmons' shooting:

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

Elton Brand just had an availability before the game. Will probably have more afterward, but just for now, he was asked a few questions about how he views Ben Simmons' shooting. https://t.co/4MZOSxo9UY

Coming into Wednesday, Simmons was averaging 14.4 points, 8.5 assists, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game, shooting 56.2 percent from the field and 40 percent from three. However, he has attempted only five threes this season, and two of them have been heaves, per Basketball Reference. He's 2-of-3 on actual three-point attempts, which makes it a bit surprising he hasn't attempted more. 

But while that hesitance to shoot and his overall scoring numbers have been a bit disappointing, Simmons has impressed in every other facet in the game. His passing and vision are elite. He's become one of the NBA's most stifling and versatile defenders. He is a force of nature in transition. 

His weaknesses are also magnified by the roster construction in Philadelphia. Embiid and Simmons are an unnatural fit, as both operate best near the basket in the half court. Add in another big man in Al Horford—and a lack of secondary playmaking and shot creation—and Simmons doesn't have a roster tailor-made for his skill set like Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee. 

That has led to a number of spicy takes (or perhaps overreactions, depending on your perspective) this season:

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

Sad to see Ben Simmons turn into Jahlil Okafor crossed with Michael Carter-Williams in the fourth quarter. Sixers fans should be furious about his lack of offensive development. Simmons is still a cowardly shooter, a half-court liability and a detriment to Philly's playoff odds.

Simmons is one of the NBA's more unique talents, and he continues to divide opinion. There aren't many comparisons for 6'10" point guards who play like LeBron James in transition, Enes Kanter in the half court and Kawhi Leonard on defense. The long-held belief is that if he develops a steady jumper, he'll become one of the NBA's top players.

The jury is still out on whether that will happen this season, or perhaps ever.