By Kevin Condit, Sports Talk Philly Guest Writer
One video. All it took was one video of Ben Simmons shooting and making multiple jump shots, including a 3-pointer, in an offseason workout and the Philadelphia 76ers fanbase went into hysteria. Video footage surfaced on Monday night of Simmons playing in a full-court scrimmage under the tutelage of his new trainer, Chris Johnson, in which he showed an expanded offensive game that included the ability and willingness to shoot jump shots from all over the floor.
During his first two seasons in the NBA, seeing a Simmons jumper was more rare than finding a Stan Musial rookie card. Over 80 percent of his shots came from within five feet of the basket. However the above video shows Simmons confidently draining a 3-pointer as well as several mid-range shots, at one point even yelling “pull up” to warn his defender to no avail as he drained the shot. His shooting form does not seem rebuilt, just tidied up with his elbow being properly aligned more often. 76ers fans rightfully still bitter from the Markelle Fultz debacle will definitely be taking this footage with a grain of salt, but I am going to tell you why this is bigger than just that one video.
Earlier this month, Simmons signed his controversial five-year, $170 million dollar max contract. Mixed emotions arose from the fan base, mostly over concern if Simmons can take the next step in his development because of his unwillingness to shoot. Seemingly since he signed his name on the dotted line a little over a week ago, there has been nothing but promising news on the shooting front. Earlier this week, Tobias Harris, who also has been getting in some offseason work with Simmons' trainer Chris Johnson, witnessed Simmons' hard work for himself. After a one-on-one against him, Harris claimed he had to step up on Simmons after he drained two 3-point shots on him. Harris
"He's made big improvements to his game. His jump shot is looking really good, he has the confidence to shoot it," Harris said in the team's introductory press conference on July 12. "It was a good sight to see how hard he's been working."
That is high praise from one of his $150-plus million dollar co-stars.
Next the Australian comes out and decides not to play for his home country in this summer's FIBA World Cup after it was originally reported that he would be participating.
Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is "doubtful" to play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this summer, his agent Rich Paul tells ESPN. Simmons is more likely now to spend his full offseason preparing only for the Sixers season -- free of national team responsibilities.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 13, 2019
This again resulted in mixed emotions amongst the fan base. Some are of the mindset it is good news that he is fully committed to the 76ers. Others say it’s because he wants to hide his jumper and does not want to shoot in an actual, competitive game.
Individually, these elements do not mean much. Together, they paint a picture of a player committed to becoming a better shooter. The footage derailed any chance of Simmons hiding his jumper. The 23-year-old knows the pressure is on to show a more well-rounded game after receiving a max extension from the 76ers.
Simmons also has to know all these happenings put him under an even bigger microscope. With his agent coming out and saying he is focusing on the 76ers 100 percent of the time this offseason, there is no way Simmons can come out this season and ignore his lack of shooting. Most fans are just dying to see the willingness to shoot from beyond five feet from the basket. This is not to say he will come out firing jump shots all over the gym like Steph Curry, but it definitely shows that Philadelphia’s freshly maxed star is aware that he needs to show commitment and willingness to shoot if to at the very least keep fans happy and opponents honest.