Ben Simmons tied his career high with 34 points in the Sixers' 141-94 blowout over the Cavs on Saturday, and in the process he. Obviously, this was, and is, a big deal. Simmons' lack of shooting is arguably the only thing in the way of his becoming a top-five player in the league and the Sixers becoming a championship favorite.
The Sixers want Simmons shooting these shots. They know he has to shoot them -- not necessarily make a ton of them, but shoot them at least -- for them to get where they believe they have the talent to go. Simmons looks and says he feels comfortable with his shot. Indeed, this looks pretty good:
For those who haven't had the privilege of standing in a scrum of reporters listening to Sixers coach Brett Brown talk, it's a treat. You are not going to get the canned answers you get from a lot of coaches. And he's not going to cut you short. You ask a basic question, you are very likely going to get anything but a basic response. He'll be colorful. He'll be specific and detailed. Naturally, Brown was asked about Simmons' shooting on Saturday, same as he's been being asked about it for the past two years.
Per ESPN's Tim Bontempts, Brown made it clear he wants Simmons to shoot one 3-pointer per game, at a minimum, moving forward. From ESPN:
"This is what I want," Brown said, "and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a 3-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up 2s ... I'm fine with whatever is open. But I'm interested in the 3-point shot. The mentality that he has where he's turning corners and taking that long step, that gather step, and bringing his shoulders to the rim and trying to dunk or finish tight, will equal higher efficiency, or getting fouled. That's the world that interests me the most. Those two things."
This is nothing new, that Brown wants Simmons playing the modern game -- which aims for threes, layups/dunks and free throws. But putting a number on it, saying one 3-pointer per game, at a minimum, makes it real. It's not a standard "Ben will shoot more threes when he's ready" escape comment. It's tangible. Brown also said he wants Simmons shooting eight free throws a game, which should come from those corner turning, square-shouldered drives Brown referenced.
Again, per ESPN:
"The drama of it is overblown," Brown said. "The reality [is] that he can shoot and it's ultimately going to need to come into his game in a pronounced way from an attempt standpoint, that's not overblown. I think the drama surrounding it is completely overblown. When I put on my coaching hat and I'm looking at a 23-year-old young man trying to grow his game, it's completely, first, in his wheelhouse. And, secondly, he will be liberated. His world will open up.
"And I think, in many ways, so will ours."