Ben Simmons is one of the most unique talents in all of NBA history. 6’11 with point guard skills, ridiculous passing ability, high basketball IQ, casually puts up amazing stat lines at just 22 years old.
Except for one issue: he isn’t an effective shooter at the NBA level.
Now, there are videos out in the open of him hitting open shots from 3 point land sure. But he’s yet to prove he can be effective from that range in the game.
It was sort of a non-issue his rookie season. He still won rookie of the year and Philadelphia started to prove the process. But now expectations are higher and at the very least fans expected some improvement from his rookie season. Quite simply, there has not been any in the area of the long-range shooting.
The good news is that the other areas of his game have improved. He looks more confident in his sophomore season and having Jimmy Butler on the team now has helped him out a lot.
But in a league that has moved to “live and die by the 3” Simmons is an outlier.
I remember back in March 2015 watching a high school game on TV. Simmons’ team was featured and let me tell you, he is undoubtedly the best high school prospect I have ever seen excluding LeBron James.
He had an underwhelming freshman year at LSU (and became a clear example of why some players shouldn’t have to adhere to the one and done rule) then was injured in 2016-2017. Simmons burst on the scene finally last year and his style of play excited me so much I even bought a Ben Simmons stuffed toy (to sit next to Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo in my collection).
At the very least, some progression in his long-range shot was expected this season. I mean he didn’t have to become Stephen Curry by any means but at least some expansion in that part of his game would have been nice.
But the improvement has been minimal, to the point where Ben Simmons attempting a shot outside of 10 feet has become a meme.
I still consider Simmons to be a top 25 talent overall (24th currently) but the potential is there for him to be so much more than that consistently. The good news is he’s only 22 years old still and when putting things in perspective there is still plenty of time for him to improve this area of his game.
It’s understandable that Philadelphia as an organization wants to win now and the franchise might not want Simmons to take this risk in the immediate short term, but I tend to be on the side that this part of Simmons’ game is so crucial that it could be the difference between Philadelphia seriously contending for an NBA championship or just being regular playoff contributors.
The potential is still there, and that potential remains scary. Ben Simmons has the potential to be the best player in the NBA, but that will remain potential if his long-range shot does not improve. My gut says it will over time but this is a very real concern right now.