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Simmons' shooting adding to 76ers' puzzle

Ben Simmons' shooting limitations are making for a more challenging fit with fellow Philadelphia's NBA superstars Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler.

Simmons' shooting adding to 76ers' puzzle

Ben Simmons' shooting limitations are making for a more challenging fit with fellow Philadelphia's NBA superstars Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler.

BEN SIMMONS #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball during a NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
BEN SIMMONS #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers handles the ball during a NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Picture:Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ben Simmons is halfway through his second NBA season and one familiar weakness remains the biggest concern over his game.

The Australian star has made just nine of 47 field-goal attempts when 10 feet or more from the basket and his conversion percentage (19 per cent) is the worst individual rate in the NBA.


Simmons' inability to convert on jump shots causes much consternation from basketball pundits, although it's the low level of attempts that worry his coach.

Brett Brown has called for Simmons to be more selfish in shooting the basketball and this is a sentiment Simmons reinforced after a seven-turnover performance during a blowout loss to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, though he wasn't talking outside shooting.

"I just need to be more aggressive," Simmons said. "I always look to pass every time and I think in my head I get caught up in trying to throw it too many ways and to guys when I have the opportunity to take it to the rim."

Anxiety over Simmons' inability to shoot is heightened following recent comments from superstar teammates Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler.

With the other two members of Philadelphia's "Big 3" publicly questioning their lack of touches it falls on Simmons, as the 76ers point guard, to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.

Striking a balance between personal offence and helping those around him is an area 22-year-old Simmons must improve, according to Brown.

"The thing that interests me the most is whether can he run our team," Brown told reporters when speaking on Simmons' evolution as a floor general.

"You feel it and you see it and I think that he's improving in that area, but we need him to do what I just said."

Simmons leads the 76ers in virtually every passing metric -- assists, passes made, time in possession and turnovers being four prominent examples -- but it's that last category that frustrates the reigning rookie of the year.

"As a guy who has the ball a long time, I don't want to be the guy with the most turnovers, Simmons says. "It's not easy, but I think, every night, I try to pay attention a little more offensively."

Simmons has famously yet to attempt a three-point shot this season, making him a challenging fit alongside centre Embiid who shots a lowly 30 per cent on three-point attempts.

A clear overlap of strengths and weaknesses among Philadelphia's three best players has led some to speculate whether Simmons could be traded to better distribute Philadelphia's talent base.

An in-season Simmons trade is extremely unlikely given his long-term potential but it could become a more realistic scenario if Philadelphia disappoint in the playoffs.

That would be a worst case scenario for a 76ers franchise who, despite endless speculation over the fit of their superstar trio, have shown signs of improvement.

Philadelphia are 18-9 since Butler arrived, ranking eighth in offensive rating and despite valid concerns over fit, Simmons has at times played the most assertive basketball of his career.

He is averaging 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game since Butler suited up - Russell Westbrook is the only other player in the NBA to match these averages.

Lofty statistical averages have Simmons on track to become Australia's first NBA All-Star in Charlotte next month although he claims that individual accolades are currently a secondary motive.

"My priority is to get to playoffs and have a shot at a championship; if I'm playing at that level and were able to do that then, I think I should be an All-Star."

Philadelphia are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference and Simmons remains confident that more time together will help ensure they climb the standings.

"Team-wise, we are still learning how good we can be together as a team. I still believe in the guys we have and I think we have the guys to good deep in the playoffs."

AAP


AAP




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