76ers star Ben Simmons says improving jump shot has been main focus of his offseason training
Simmons did not make a single 3-pointer last season and also struggled mightily from the free-throw line
Ben Simmons had a fantastic rookie campaign last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists. He helped the Sixers to a 52-30 record -- their best win total since 2001 -- as well as their first playoff appearance since 2012. For his efforts, he was named the Rookie of the Year.
If there was one glaring weakness of Simmons' game, though, it was his lack of of a jump shot. He didn't make a single 3-pointer, missing all 11 of his attempts from beyond the arc, all of which were last-second heaves. But even aside from 3s, Simmons just simply didn't take many jump shots period.
For the most part it was fine, as Simmons clearly had plenty of positive impact even without a jumper. But at some points -- especially in the second round of the playoffs against the Boston Celtics -- teams were able to take advantage of that weakness by laying off of him and clogging up driving lanes. Realizing that, Simmons noted that improving his jump shot was one of the main things he worked on this offseason. Via NBA.com/Sixers:
But like his teammates, coaches, management, and fans, Simmons wants more in year two. His off-season regimen was structured accordingly, with free throw and jump shooting being key points of emphasis.
"You've got to start slowly," said Simmons, who shot 56.0 percent from the foul line, and scored 80.4 percent of his points in the point (fifth-most in the NBA). "If it's adding a free throw that gets up to 80.0 percent, that's about five more points right there. If you add little things and keep adding over time, that's how you become great."
In respect to his jumper, Simmons noted on the Fanatic that there's not only value to makes, but takes.
"If you take [jump shots], [teams] give you a little bit more respect, and you're able to make more moves and dissect the defense," Simmons said. "This summer, I've been working a lot on certain things that I'll definitely use."
While Simmons isn't going to instantly turn into a great 3-point shooter -- he may never get there, to be honest -- it is an interesting point he makes about simply taking the shots anyway. Yes, teams will lay off him a bit in one-on-one coverage, but if you're willing to take a shot, it at least makes the defense respect you, which opens up other things for the offense.
Speaking of the Celtics, just look at Marcus Smart as an example. He shot 30.1 percent from 3-point land last season, but still launched over four 3s a game. Perhaps that was a bit too many, but since he was a willing shooter, defenders had to chase him off the line while rotating.
Simmons taking more of that attitude should help both him and the Sixers. For one, he will make some of his jumpers, even ones that aren't 3s. Plus, not being afraid to take shots will make life much tougher for the defense as it adds just one more thing for them to pay attention to.
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