With one of the biggest offseasons in Sixers history approaching, we take a look at some of the ways Ben Simmons can expand and improve his game.
Shoot, Shoot, Shoot!!!!
It is no secret that Ben Simmons needs to work on his jumpshot this offseason. Not just his jumpshot though. Ben needs total confidence in taking many different kinds of shots. Whether that is 15 foot pull-up jumpers, free throws, or even an occasional corner three. Ben needs to be ready and comfortable to start firing away come next season.
We’re not asking Ben to be a lethal shooter next season, but to simply be able to take open shots that the defense will be more than willing to give him. If Ben is able to do this, then the defense won’t be zeroing in on Embiid underneath or sending extra help on the Redick DHO (dribble handoff). If Ben is able to shoot next season, then coach Brett Brown can give more ball-handling duties to Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. This will help create a more natural modern day offense. And with this, there is no reason why the 76ers can’t seriously contend for an NBA championship.
The bottom line is that Ben Simmons, if he wants to be recognized as one of the best players in the world, has to be able to improve his shot significantly. Especially, if he wants to improve his on-court fit alongside Joel Embiid.
Besides shooting, Ben needs to expand his off-ball game. Shooting is certainly a big part of being able to play off the ball. However, Ben Simmons, who is a six foot ten athlete, offers so many different skillsets. Ben is fast enough to beat most players in a foot race and strong enough to bully most players to the basket. With that being said, Ben has to utilize these talents to cut and post up in the half court much, much more. Ben cannot stand around in the half court.
Some of this has to do with Ben himself not being assertive, but it also falls on the coach to find a way to best utilize Simmons’ skillsets. A big improvement we saw at times this season is when Brett used Simmons as a screener. This is something that could be a danger for the league. Ben is a major threat to score off of the roll, but Ben is also one of the tallest and best passers in the league. Ben Simmons as a roll man could be a Draymond Green on steroids.
The fact of the matter is that an assertive and aggressive Ben Simmons is the best Ben Simmons. When Ben is attacking the basket relentlessly like he did at times in the postseason, the team only benefits from that. But Ben also started to find ways to be useful off the ball. Ben started doing some cleanup duties on the offensive glass. Ben found himself grabbing a lot of offensive rebounds out of sheer will and being assertive.
Simmons is a mismatch for most players, especially other guards, in this league. Ben has to be smart enough and assertive enough to hunt down these mismatches. If Ben thinks he can beat someone off the dribble, then he better do it. If Ben thinks he can back down a smaller defender, then he must do it. Ben already has great vision and improving touch around the rim, so he must combine these skillsets together when he’s in the post.
Some people may say we saw the same Ben Simmons this year as we saw his rookie season. I would disagree with that and say he made some serious strides to becoming one of the best all-around defenders in the NBA. Ben will be entering his third season. This season has to be the one where we start to see some improvements in his all-around game. This season has to be the first legitimate ‘jump’ we see in Ben Simmons. The jump that makes us believe he is seriously going to be one of the best players in the league.