First Take did a segment on Ben Simmons this morning. Is he worth a max contract?
I say yes, but I’m not on the show.
The interesting part of the discussion was when Stephen A basically asserted that Simmons didn’t shoot last year because he was scared. He’s not the first person to suggest this, since I think maybe 25% of the Sixers fan base probably believes this to some degree. But I found this part of the conversation intriguing and transcription worthy, after the jump:
Stephen A: If this dude, and don’t get me wrong, he needs to work on his jump shot, and I’m told by (agent) Rich Paul and Klutch Sports that he is working out very, very hard, which was not the case last year, but is something that I want to remind you of. And nobody is willing to admit this; this is just me, I’m making this assertion – Ben Simmons was such an awful shooter, and is such an awful shooter, it wasn’t that he was lazy last year, he didn’t want anybody to watch him. You ever come across somebody that’s so god awful at a particular trait? You just don’t want anybody to see you perform in it? He didn’t want anybody watching him shoot. That’s how awful he’s been.
Max Kellerman: That’s an interesting theory.
Stephen A: That’s exactly what I believe. It’s something he has to overcome. People came to him saying they wanted to work with him and he said ‘okay, I’ll give you an hour.’ That’s what he was saying to people. There’s only one reason he would do that, and that’s because you’re embarrassed by it, and that’s what he did with the Sixers last year. That’s not the case right now, which is a testament to him. I have a problem with his ability to shoot, period, and nothing else. He defends, he’s long, his footwork, passing, ball handling skills, no he’s not Magic or LeBron yet, but the brother is something special. At 6’10” and without a shot, this is what he’s been able to do.
You also have to remember who you’re listening to here. I am a guy who covered the 76ers every day for 10 years. I saw Larry Brown and Billy King and Pat Croce surround Allen Iverson with dudes who couldn’t shoot. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have value. And the fact of the matter is when you look at the game of basketball and think about the multitude of components that contribute to one’s success, on the court, I understand that Ben Simmons cannot shoot. I’m telling you that is the only thing he can’t do.
I think it was the home game against Milwaukee this year, the April 4th matchup that the Sixers lost 128-122. Giannis Antetokounmpo launched an airball in that game and got jeered mercilessly by the crowd. He then went on to drop 45 points on the Sixers while shooting 13-22 and 3-7 from three.
So it really didn’t matter, not one iota, that he airballed a shot earlier, because he bulldozed the Sixers to the tune of 45, 13, and 6 and a road win against a playoff team.
I don’t know if Ben Simmons is afraid to shoot or not, but that Giannis experience really stood out to me, because Giannis didn’t give a shit about missing the rim entirely with his still developing jump shot. He had the willingness to try the shot, missed, and clobbered the Sixers anyway.
That’s where Simmons needs to be, in that mindset of, “it doesn’t matter if I miss a few because I know I can still steamroll these fools at will.” And when he does develop that jump shot – IF he does – we’re talking about a guy with an incredibly high ceiling. We’ve been getting Ben Simmons’ floor for the past two years. It’s scary to think of how good he can be with a respectable jumper.
That’s why he’s worth a max contract, in my mind, because if the floor is an All-Star selection at age 22, then what is the ceiling?