Another night, another brutal game from the 76ers on Tuesday night. I guess it was somewhat expected – given that it was the second night of a home/away back to back against Toronto – but nonetheless, I was left super aggravated. Honestly, I wasn’t really that upset that the Sixers lost. I was mortified by how poorly Ben Simmons played – specifically how often he turned the ball over. I was equally mortified by how little Brett Brown adjusted his approach based on what he saw. I woke up Wednesday morning with more questions than answers (that I am comfortable with, at least).
I know a lot of you are going to say it is just one game and to be patient and that he’s young. All of these points are valid. But, none of these points address my real concern: Ben Simmons won’t shoot the ball, and that is not remotely close to being okay in the modern NBA. He has taken the following number of FGAs in seven games this season:
14 vs. Boston 10 FTA (42 min)
8 vs. Chicago 3 FTA (34 min)
3 vs. Orlando 0 FTA (7 min)
15 vs. Milwaukee 6 FTA (37 min)
20 vs. Charlotte 6 FTA (32 min)
11 vs. Atlanta 5 FTA (27 min)
9 vs. Toronto 6 FTA (34 min)
He has taken zero three point attempts this season, which probably doesn’t surprise many people, but I was hoping he would at least try one here and there. He came into the season telling the media that he wasn’t going to shoot threes. Uh, what? This is your third year in the NBA (2nd playing), and you are just refusing to shoot threes – in a league that just saw Klay Thompson knock down 14 in one game the other night? I don’t like that mindset even a little bit. I am not sure if he is just stubborn, not confident in himself, or what – but whatever it is, it’s a major issue for the 76ers. It is something Brett Brown needs to figure out as well.
I wrote an article for PFO over the summer where I gave each player Performance Objectives in the format of a corporate annual review format. In that article, I said that Ben Simmons’ jump shot was the most important thing in Philly sports. I still think this is the case, but my confidence level in it is dropping with each passing game.
I know people disagree about the origin of the quote regarding the definition of insanity, but THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY IS DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND GETTING THE SAME RESULT, BUT EXPECTING A DIFFERENT ONE.
How many times can Ben drive towards the rim and refuse to shoot and force a pass that gets picked off before he decides that he has to shoot a 7 foot jump shot? Why hasn’t he learned how to shoot? Why hasn’t Brett Brown and his staff pushed Ben to develop this part of his game? How many times are they going to let Ben pass the ball to someone at the top of the key and then run behind the backboard and stand there? What is Ben scared of? Is he right-handed? Why is Liam Simmons acting as Ben’s shooting coach? Does Ben really want to be great? That last question might be my biggest concern.
The bottom line is that Ben is too talented to not be looking for his own shot. Dario can’t handle the usage rate offensively that Ben can. He is not athletic or skilled enough to do so. The same goes for Robert Covington. Covington has been shooting the ball well, but he is not someone who can break his defender down or create for others. This is why the ball is in Ben’s hands. He can break his defender down and get his own shot, and he can create for others. But…Ben has to be willing to do the former in order to maximize his skills doing the latter. This team isn’t remotely talented enough for him to be deferring as often as he does.
Overall, I am much less confident now than I was going into the summer. I really don’t care if they win or lose anymore. It’s not hyperbole. The Sixers aren’t competing for a title this season. I really just want to see Ben Simmons develop his game, because if this is the ceiling – and IT IS without a jump shot – I would rather move on now and get something for him while we still can. And this is coming from someone who is a huge fan of his.
So, where do they go from here? I don’t know. But, I do know that I am DVR’ing House Hunters in case Ben’s passive approach to offense continues. I can tolerate a lot of things when it comes to the 76ers, but refusing to shoot the basketball is something I just can’t watch.