Before the sports world was put on halt, Ben Simmons and the 76ers were sitting at the 6th seed in the east, with fans wondering where the team will go from here. Simmons was down with lower back problems, he has been working tirelessly to recover, preparing himself for whatever is to come when the NBA gets the green light to come back.
Ben has been a target of critics locally and nationally when it comes to his shooting. In today’s NBA most players chuck up as many three pointers as they can, but not many fans consider the physical aspect that Ben brings to the point guard position. Even Brett Brown comes to his defense when questioned on his lack of shooting.
“Because he is such a polarizing player, a unique athlete at an All-Star level in a high-profile city, you zoom into the weakness he has, which is he won’t shoot, I get it. Personally, I think it gets overblown.”
Coach Brown at one point publicly stated he wanted Ben to take at least one three a game. Following that statement, Ben attempted only two in three months. Brett just wants to help Ben build some confidence and rhythm from deep, but if the shot isn’t there, I see why Simmons would still hesitate to pull the trigger beyond the line. Ben was questioned on his progress as he has tried to specifically work on his shot with Sixers trainers and had a few interesting comments.
“I know it’s going to come, it’s a matter of me being comfortable doing it. Some of that is getting the reps in. I can take a hook shot from the elbow because I’ve done it so many times, I’m confident it will go in. It’s second nature. With 3’s it’s never been like that. I’ve got to make it a point of emphasis. I could be one of those guys shooting 30% right now. But I’d rather be one of those guys shooting 40%.”
As Ben continues to work on his game, Sixers fans can be confident he is doing all he can to come back a better player after this global pandemic. His dedication to working on himself is one of the most important traits to have as a young player of his caliber.
Embiid also had some comments regarding the media propaganda that Simmons and Embiid just simply cannot win together. Embiid has been trying to work his game around Simmons as much as possible, as you can see from the following quote.
“People keep saying, ‘Oh, you have to stop spending time on the 3-point line,’ but I do it because Ben is such a good driver, going to basket, that I’ve got to help open that up for him. I would like if he would do the same for me, to start shooting [3s]. But I also know how uncomfortable he is with it.”
Embiid and Ben want to make this work, if the team can continue to support them as they progress, who knows where the Sixers could be in a year or two. Ben has the attention of the league in general, as even a player like LeBron James shows him high praise.
“He worked his tail off,” James says. “The sky’s the limit for Ben. His size, his strength, his vision, his IQ … he carries himself as someone who believes he’s the best, as you should. As long as he doesn’t care about what other people say, he’ll be fine. Nine times out of 10, people who criticize you have never done anything in their life. Either that or they’re jealous cause you’re better than them.”
That is a very big compliment coming from the best player in the league. Ben continues to push himself to progress and Sixers fans should feel at ease knowing the drive and determination Simmons has to win.
Maybe the most important quote from this ESPN article was this one he had prior to his injury: “I feel like I want to take 3s now, as opposed to being asked to force them up. It could be during the playoffs. I’ve prepped so much for it, when I do it, it will work.”
Some strong words from a 23-year-old NBA star, but he knows what it will take for him to reach his goals. Simmons knows it is up to him, and with his ability and drive only improving, the sky is the limit whenever the Sixers can get back on the court.
(ALL QUOTES FROM JACKIE MACMULLAN AND ESPN)