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Has Ben Simmons Peaked?

Ben Simmons has been heralded as a generational talent. He’s a transcendent blend of size and skill. The best point forward we’ve seen since LeBron James, but his game is seemingly stagnant on the offensive end. Simmons has an exceptional handle and impeccable court vision. His size and athleticism allow him to create opportunities other guards cannot. When it comes to running the fast break, there is no one better than Simmons — he is responsible for creating 18 points per game on the fast break. This figure is good for first in the NBA.

Ben Simmons is an average player if you keep him on the half court.

– Jared Dudley

Simmons ran into a road block that was Jared Dudley in the first round of the playoffs last year. Dudley had his way with him early on. Dudley is a long time “three-and-D” specialist that should not be taken lightly. He guarded Kobe Bryant in his prime on a Suns team that took the 2010 Champs to six games. He appeared to have Ben Simmons figured out. “Ben Simmons is an average player if you keep him on the half court.” said Dudley … and there was some truth to that. Upon hearing this, Simmons willed his way into Dudley and the Nets. He ran up and down the floor, pushing the pace, and using his size and speed to ultimately outplay Dudley’s efforts.

However, Simmons is four years removed from college and still won’t take jump shots willingly. In his third year, as he sat out his first with an injury. Others in his class are taking leaps, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Lonzo Ball, and even former teammate Markelle Fultz, are taking their games to whole new levels. Simmons is seemingly the same player he came into the league as. His defensive stats are off the charts, but offensively, when slowed down, he can be a hindrance to his team.

Simmons’ heavy reluctance to pull up creates problems for his teammates. He need not be guarded on the three point line. This allows teams to clog the lane and shut down Philadelphia’s greatest weapon, the best center in the league, Joel Embiid. Simmons has a hard time creating opportunities for his big man with defenses treating him as such. The Sixers are obviously not better without either, even if ones absence opens up opportunities for another. Without Joel Embiid, the lane is so quickly clogged in order to stop him, Simmons has more room to penetrate. Visa-versa. Without Simmons, Embiid is freed up more on the inside, as opposing players will have to play the perimeter more. Both are paint specialists. Simmons, has an even closer average shot distance than Shaquille O’Neal when he dominated the post in the early 2000’s.

Even if Dwight Howard [3] has made more three-pointers made this season than Simmons [2], the ability is there. While the mechanics are far from aesthetic, all Simmons needs is confidence in order to make opponents respect him from the entirety of the offenses reach. He has hit short, contested midrangrenge turnarounds jumpers. If this skill can be expanded, there is hope for ‘the process’.

DistanceFG/FGAFG%
At Rim215/302.712
3 to <10 ft61/157.389
10 to <16 ft3/23.130
16 ft to <3-pt2/5.400
3-pt2/5.400
Ben Simmons shooting stats for 2019/20

If his jumper continues to stagnate, Philly may not be where this max-deal player finds himself playing out his contract. A role where Simmons can play from the power forward position, and still be allotted to play-make, on a different team, may be a better fit. The Seventy-Sixers need shooting, shooting that will open up the court for Joel Embiid. Even if his clip is horrid, Simmons taking shots with confidence would boost offensive production significantly.

-An OG OJ Joint

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