The fans of the NBA are awaiting a return from three-time All-Star, 2019-2020 All-NBA, and two-time All-Defensive point guard Ben Simmons. Since draft day, it has been well known that Simmons would become a force in the league. His huge frame combined with his playmaking and defensive abilities created comparisons to all-time greats such as Magic Johnson and Lebron James. However, as time went on, one hole in his game continued to widen to the point of no repair: Ben Simmons was afraid to shoot threes.
Simmons has only attempted 34 threes in the four seasons he has played, about 1% of all shots he has taken. Oddly enough, he had made a high percentage of his long-distance shots, yet he continues to resort to short-range shooting as his medium of scoring. Of the career 1784 shots that he has made, three-pointers account fr just 0.2% of his made shots.
As for basketball in general, one thing that is certain about the game over time is that spacing and three point shooting are of a highter value then ever. Teams are shooting and making more threes, and if a player cannot do that, they risk losing their spot on a roster. As a general rule for most players, three point shooting has been something that you just have to evolve with. The two best examples of this are Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez.
In Brook’s time with the Nets, he was never a three point shooter, rarely attempting more than 15 in a single season. However, in his last season as a Net, 2016-2017, he altered his game and began to shoot threes more often, with 387 in that season. Since then, Lopez has become a confident and efficient shooter with a 34.4% average since that season, making him a credible threat to all defenses.
Coming out of college, Lonzo Ball was considered a three point shooter, but not always a three point maker. In his first two seasons, he never shot above 33% from three, which is often considered the benchmark for a player to be considered a threat from long range. However, in the following two seasons, Ball stepped up his three point making ability, shooting nearly 38% from three durring his time in New Orleans. When he signed with Chicago this off-season, his ability to space the floor was concerning, but this worry has since been out to rest. Ball has become a knockdown three point shooter with 7 attempts a night on 44.4% shooting. His ability to become a consistant three point maker has turned him into a budding star and a player who must be guarded tightly at all times.
Up until this point, there has been little hope for a resurgence in Simmons’ shooting confidence. In his most recent series against the Hawks, Simmons averaged just 9.9 points. While he contributed in other ways, gathering 8.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds per game, his lack of aggression was disappointing, especially for someone widely regarded as his team’s second-best player.
Simmons is currently not playing due to disputes with the 76ers over his trade request. He has also cited his struggle with mental health as a reason for his trade requests and holdout. His long absence, along with his inability to adapt to the current style of basketball, has raised questions about whether he should even have a place in the NBA.
Many players do, of course, have weaknesses in their games. Simmons, on the other hand, is a special case. While he is one of many players to struggle as a shooter, he is the only one of this group to have potential as a superstar and even possible MVP. This leaves Simmons with two options: he can adapt by learning to shoot, or he can change his playstyle.
The former is significantly more difficult, yet all the more rewarding. Should Simmons wish to maximize his own potential, he will need to develop a consistent jumpshot and the courage to use it. As to the other aspects of his game, he has very little to change or improve. Before his holdout began, he was widely regarded as one of the best defenders and passers in the game. Should he find his jumpshot, he could legitimately be an MVP candidate.
The latter option is slightly less difficult. Instead of focusing on developing a jumpshot, Simmons can focus on his mental game. If he were to develop into a skilled finisher with the courage to consistently attack the basket, he could be a force to be reckoned with. While perhaps not an MVP candidate, a courageous Simmons with a consistent ability and desire to finish at the rim could be an impressive player.