Should Sixers Fans Worry About Ben Simmons?

Ben Simmons signed a five-year, $170 million extension last July. So should Sixers fans be worried that their star point guard can’t shoot a basketball outside of the paint?

Now, anyone—multimillionaire athlete or otherwise—is worth whatever the market will pay. That’s how capitalism works. And NBA teams are notorious for wildly overpaying free agents or players about to hit their walk years. So it’s not Simmons’ fault if his team wants to throw money at him.

“Ben Simmons is a great player in transition,” Jared Dudley said. “And once you get him into half court, he’s average.”

Dudley said this quote before taking on the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2018-2019 playoffs. Dudley said what the rest of the league and the fans already know. Ben Simmons is dazzling in transition, running the ball up and down the court, passing or throwing it down. It’s a lot of fun to watch and it made him the No. 1 overall pick coming out of college, the Rookie of the Year in 2018 and a presumptive perennial All-Star.

But he is something else in the half-court when the game slows down and the ability to make a jump shot becomes even more valuable than it already is. Players defending Simmons will back way off of him. He is always open. Cartoonishly open. Open to the extent that it’s unclear what exactly is happening on the court because there is such a massive cushion.

Fans could argue that on a team with Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Joel Embiid, all of whom can shoot serviceably, he doesn’t need to (as some have suggested). But there should still be concerns for his longevity in the league. The NBA has been moving away from longer-range two-pointers, the kind that Simmons refuses to take, and it’s moving towards three-pointers, which may as well be a continent away.

So what happens when he reaches the age of 30 and cannot fly around into the paint or knife through transition anymore? By that time, his chances of developing anything have diminished. While he has not developed like the 76ers front office and fans need to have seen, it might start to cause problems on the court.

Teams simply cannot have two similar paint driven scorers on the same team in this day and age. Joel Embiid is 7-feet tall and he can nail a 35-foot jumper 100-percent better than Simmons can on any given night as well as take it to defenders low in the post.

When those two personas collide (which is likely if the Sixers keep coming up short) then fans and execs have to decide, who is the future of this franchise? Is it the cocky, trash-talking player who can perform on a nightly basis, or the kid who simply refuses to shoot or enhance that part of his game, marginally neutralizing him in any pivotal game or series throughout the rest of his career?





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