Over the last five games or so, there has been a major development within the Philadelphia 76ers’ organization and it has nothing to do with Jimmy Butler “calling out” head coach Brett Brown. It actually involves second-year point guard Ben Simmons, who is willingly taking and making jump shots.
Heading into this season, the consensus from many NBA analysts was that if Simmons was going to take the next step in his career, he needed to have some semblance of a formidable jump shot.
Last season as a rookie, the 6-foot-10 point guard was able to use his size and skills to get to the rim at will. When you take a look at his shooting splits from last year, it backed up this notion as he shot a ridiculous 73.3 percent at the rim.
But when Simmons could not get to the rim, his shooting percentages drastically dropped to 40.4-percent (3-to-10 feet out) and 30.9-percent (10-to-16 feet out).
In Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics, we saw how much of an issue this was as Simmons was not allowed access to the lane and he did not know what to do. Either he was going to take a jump shot or pass it out to another player.
Fast forward to this season, and the murmurs continued to get louder about Simmons not taking a jump shot, especially with the addition of Jimmy Butler. This eventually led to some writers questioning Simmons’ long-term fit with the Sixers, specifically playing next two players in Joel Embiid and Butler, who can shoot the ball a little bit.
However, those questions and doubts have begun to quiet down with the recent emergence of a jump shot from the 22-year-old Simmons.
In Saturday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks, the young point guard made it an emphasis to start the game shooting the ball, making a fadeaway jump shot over Harrison Barnes in the post.
Overall, Simmons took four jump shots en route to his sixth triple-double of this season and 18th of his young basketball career (20 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists). As of right now, his shooting splits between three and 10 feet is 44.8-percent, while at the rim it is 71.3-percent.
For the Sixers to be successful in the playoffs, they will need Simmons to take those shots and become comfortable doing it. Embiid is noticing the uptick in jumpers from Simmons and wants him to continue to do it.
“He hasn’t been making it, but he’s been taking it. That’s what matters,” Embiid said (h/t NBC Sports Philadelphia). “I shoot 30 percent from three, but guys still jump when I shot fake — I don’t know why, especially because I say that I hate shooting threes. But just because you take them, people are compelled to guard that. He’s got to keep on taking them. Eventually, it’s going to go in.”
The third-year center is right in his logic of saying that if Simmons continues to shoot those jump shots, then teams are going to have to guard that. He might not make them all the time, but the threat will open up the Sixers’ offense even more.
Along those same lines, Simmons is starting to see how this new addition is making life easier for him on the court.
“I think just being more aggressive I think when I take more shots. They have to play me a different way and I think teams are starting to do that, so it’s easier for me to read the defense and just give teams different looks when they’re guarding me.”
If Simmons’ jump shot can become consistent by the time the playoffs roll around, then the rest of the NBA should be terrified. He already had the other tools in his arsenal to be a good player, now adding a confident jump shot could make him a great two-way player.