This past Monday, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown made some comments that appeared to be a coach defeated. The 76ers were getting ready to play the Oklahoma City Thunder when he made this statement about 76ers point guard Ben Simmons:
“And this is true,” he said with a smile. “Evidently I have failed, and it’s something that we’re all mindful of, and this is one of these things that is never going to go away. The attention this has received is remarkable. But I guess I helped fuel it, and I own it, and I’ve got to help him find this, and most importantly, he has to find himself.”
What Brown was alluding to was Simmons and his lack of attempts, or care, in shooting three-pointers. Brown initially wanted Simmons to attempt at least one three-pointer a game. But so far, Simmons has notoriously failed this task.
Simmons loves to embrace his tried-and-true inside game and passing, infamously shunning the three-point shot. In theory, it’s hard to blame Simmons for wanting to stick to his ethos. He’s 6’10, 240 pounds of freight and is gifted as a basketball player physically and mentally. His style has worked this long, and it’s been productive at every level he’s played on.
But change in human development and society as a whole is inevitable. It’s what makes the world we live in, and life so special. Simmons simply just doesn’t want to adapt to the emphasis of three-point shooting. And it’s hurting his 76er team in the process.
For starters, Simmons hasn’t grown as a player with his own game that he plays. Simmons is currently averaging 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. Great numbers on paper, but in year three of the Simmons experience, it’s about identical with his other seasons.
His point per game totals his first three seasons (if this season ended today)? 15.8, 16.9 and 14.9. Productive, but not much growth as a scorer.
But Simmons not growing as a player within his own comfort zone makes him not willing to shoot threes even more frustrating. Simmons has attempted a total of 22 three-pointers in his career-connecting on two. The two that he made were this season, and he has five attempts this season as a whole. As for the three attempts that were missed, they were half-court heaves.
Simmons has made it clear with his actions that his style of play won’t change. With that said, should the 76ers consider trading their star point guard?
If the 76ers want to continue their “process”, it isn’t a bad idea to consider.
As one of the faces of the franchise, Simmons’s production correlates to the success or failure of the franchise. In his first two seasons, he has produced and led the 76ers to two playoff berths. So it isn’t as if Simmons’s production during his brief time in Philadelphia hasn’t translated to success.
But for the 76ers to move past just being a perennial playoff team, Philly needs him to stretch the floor. In fact, not just Philly, but all of basketball is counting on it.
Unfortunately at this point, Simmons may be who he is as a player. And the 76ers can either keep him and hope for the best, or trade for a player whose game is more all-around offensively.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounpo has similar characteristics of Simmons in terms of physical and basketball traits. The differences in terms of their career are that one has embraced the idea of attempting to shoot threes, while the other obviously has not.
Giannis never shied away from shooting threes, but he never was a proficient outside shooter. His coach, Mike Budenholzer, told him to attempt more this season, and he’s made good on the demand. It’s near the first half of the season and Giannis already has made a career-high in three’s (59) and 23 three-point shot attempts away in a career-high in three-point tries (181 thus far).
Budenholzer didn’t ask Giannis to be Stephen Curry. However, Budenholzer’s task for Giannis would create benefits for the team. This season has become more difficult for defenses to slow down Giannis. Defenses have to brace for the entire floor with the Greek Freak.
Simmons hasn’t understood how him attempting to shoot three’s can further improve the team’s success. If Simmons took a few three-pointers a game, it could keep opposing defenses on their toes. Instead, they anticipate a drive to the lane or a kick-out to a teammate for a three, creating no mystery for the 76ers.
Thus, this perhaps is why the 76ers should look into intriguing trade packages for Simmons as the trade deadline looms. The 76ers have invested in Simmons, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid for the long haul. But they may be looking outside the NBA Finals for that same time frame, too.
To maximize the personnel around the 76ers, it can’t hurt the front office to look into it. During the trade deadline last season, the Toronto Raptors wanted a big man who could operate on the interior and stretch the floor. They got Marc Gasol.
We all know what happened last June.