By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer
The Philadelphia 76ers, currently sitting at 11-6, have lived up to most expectations to start the year. When the starting five plays together, the team looks like one of the best in the entire NBA. Although this team has seen a lot of success to kick off the season, one player seems to have taken a hit and has been put in the spotlight.
Ben Simmons, so far this season, is not off to the statistical floor he has put up throughout his career. He is currently averaging 12.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. Now those numbers are not bad by any stretch, but you would like to see a little more in the scoring department from one of your All-Stars.
When this team was constructed, you knew that everyone’s numbers were going to take a hit since there are more mouths to feed, but Simmons is scoring four fewer points per game than he was last season. Some of that has to do with a focus on his pure point guard nature and trying to set up his teammates to score instead of himself, and some of it has to do with still being unwilling to shoot the ball regularly from outside of five feet away from the basket.
Since the start of the preseason, we have only seen Simmons attempt two 3-point shots. Even though he has made both attempts, he still has not taken them with any sense of regularity. If he is going to take the next step in his development and get his scoring numbers back up, he is going to need to start shooting the ball more on a nightly basis.
Subtracting JJ Redick and adding Josh Richardson completely changed the landscape of this starting lineup. Richardson is a guy who can step out and shoot from deep at a good percentage, but he gets a lot of his points from slashing and attacking the basket. Adding another slasher has put more congestion in the lane, something which hurts Simmons, who looks to score all of his points right at the rim. This is why if Simmons wants to score more on a nightly basis he is going to have to adapt and step out and shoot the ball when he is left open.
Another area where Simmons is leaving points on the floor is at the free-throw line. We have seen on multiple occasions where Simmons will attack the lane and then give up the ball over drawing a foul and going to the line. Last season, he attempted 5.4 free throws per game, but right now he is only shooting 3.2 per game. Getting to the line and picking up easy points is going to be the most effective way for Simmons to get more points on the board on a nightly basis.
If Simmons wants to take not only himself but the 76ers to the next level he is going to have to adapt. Great players always add new parts to their game to help put them over the top. Simmons is a generational talent, and now is the time for him to remind everyone that he is.