Philadelphia 76ers: When is Ben Simmons going to let the 3-ball fly?

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

After knocking down 3s with surgical precision in All-Star warmups, when are the Philadelphia 76ers going to be treated to Ben Simmons’ brand new outside shot?

A few months back, Philadelphia 76ers fans waited with bated breath for Ben Simmons, the 6-foot-10 point guard-in-a-forward’s-body Australian Unicorn to take his first professional jump shot.

And when that happened, it was like the second coming of the Lombardi Trophy. Fans cheered, teammates cheered, it was a wonderful day, but fast forward to present day, and there’s been a new wrinkle added to Simmons’ ever-expanding offensive quiver: the 3-ball.

That’s right, in the Sixers’ February 10th bout against the Los Angeles Lakers, Simmons, visibly annoyed by his mentor LeBron James‘ laggy defense hoisted up the first proper 3-point attempt of his still-young career, leaving fans in the Wells Fargo Center speechless as it traveled through the air.

More from Philadelphia 76ers

Did it go in? Well, no, but he attempted it, and in a way, that’s more important, as Simmons has finally taken a step towards completing his offensive game.

For months, years actually, fans in the 215 have heard the same thing from local, national, and international pundits: If Ben Simmons gets a jump shot, he will be unguardable. And if he gets a league average 3-point shot, he will be unstoppable.

So far so good.

While Simmons’ impromptu 3 against the Lakers may have caught the fans and even himself by surprise, the Sixers point followed it up with a little more theatrics in the warmups for the NBA All-Star game, where astute fans captured video of Ben knocking down shot after shot in warmups.

And hey, his form’s not too bad either.

Now granted, Simmons is never going to be knocking down shots like J.J. Redick on the wings, but if he can take a page out of the ‘LeBron James Handbook’ and start knocking down outside shots at an even average 35 percent clip (or even a 30 percent clip) it’ll open up the paint, spread out the floor, and allow Embiid to spend more time in the dunker spot, where he is virtually unguardable.

Still not convinced? Well, look no further than Embiid’s All-Star teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Much like Simmons, Antetokounmpo came into the league as a 6-foot-10 position-less wonder, who lacked a polished offensive game. Sure, he knocked down 35 percent of his shots from deep in spot up duty as a rookie, but since his numbers and playing time have expanded, his outside percentage has dropped to a dreadful 27.3 percent, including an even worse 22.3 percent in 2018-19.

Bad right?

Well, it hasn’t really hampered the Milwaukee Bucks‘ success, as they currently have the best record in the entire league and look like a serious contender to represent the East in the NBA Finals.

Why? Because current head coach Mike Budenholzer has found a way to optimize Antetokounmpo’s strengths.

By surrounding Antetokounmpo with shooters like Khris Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova, Malcolm Brogdon, and even Brook Lopez at center, Coach Bud has created spacing to free up the paint for the Greek Freak and attack opposing teams from all over the court.

And if for some reason everyone is covered, Antetokounmpo can still take, and make an open 3, forcing teams to play him, and his teammates honestly across the entirety of halfcourt.

Though the 76ers haven’t exactly filled out their rosters with knockdown shooters at every position like the Bucks, instead opting to add star power to create the East’s first-ever Big 5, the team now has a deep bench and enough talent to take on any team in the league.

Next. So, Joel ‘Hulu has live sports’ Embiid is a thing now. dark

If Simmons can keep opposing defenses honest with a mildly consistent 3 point shot, inching his game further and further away from the paint, it will be huge for the team’s spacing, and allow Brett Brown to play faster, smarter, and more effective across the court. While few players have better on court vision than Simmons, if he can pair his playmaking abilities with a more expansive collection of offensive moves, it will make the Philadelphia 76ers a much harder out for the foreseeable future.