For the Sixers, shooting is more important than bodybuilding.
The 2019-20 NBA season’s return is right around the corner, and Sixers fans – and players – the world over are getting ready.
From Matisse Thybulle and Josh Richardson experimenting with new hair colors, to Tobias Harris penning a touching essay published on ‘The Players’ Tribune‘, Brett Brown’s boys are remaining engaged both physically and mentally for what could be a make or break playoff appearance for a squad teetering between championship contender and a team in desperate need for a soft reboot ‘Halloween (2018)-style’.
But no one on the team has had a more noticeable transformation than quite possibly the most important player on the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster: Ben Simmons.
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Shacked up in Los Angeles with Sixers’ photographer Alex Subers, Simmons has committed himself to getting into wicked shape in time for the season’s August return date, and frankly, it’s a sight to see. I mean think about it, Simmons was a borderline lock to miss any playoff run the Sixers were set to undertake had the regular season ended mid-April as planned with a back injury. With a few free months of r&r to step away from basketball and focus on rehabilitation, Simmons looks not only ready to return to the court but do so at a high level.
However, maybe instead of focusing on getting jacked, Simmons should instead put a little extra effort into jacking up 3s, am I right?
Seriously, could you even imagine if Simmons returned to whatever ‘Wide World of Sports’ court the Sixers are assigned for a Game 1 contest against the Indiana Pacers and scored a quick 3 five seconds into the contest? Fans at home would literally lose their collective minds. Or better yet, what if the Sixers strategically had Simmons hold back his newfound offensive weapon and deployed it when they really needed it, like in a second-round bout against the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat? The addition of Shake Milton should already help the Sixers’ starting five tremendously with their spacing and pacing, but having five players capable of putting up an open shot from anywhere on the court would make the team even more unguardable.
Who knows, maybe that was the team’s plan all along?
Now to be fair, I think the hype around Simmons having to develop an outside shot to be an elite player is a tad overblown. Simmons is a big, fast, athletic playmaker who is beyond dangerous in the full court and a tactician in the halfcourt as a run, pass, shoot floor general advanced beyond his years. Would an even average 3 pointer make him virtually unguardable? Totally, just ask league MVP Giannis Antedekoumpo, but even if he just focuses on being a supersized Russell Westbrook on offense with one-through-five defensive versatility, that is enough to be the second-best player on a championship team.
All I’m saying is, if Simmons is going to focus on one aspect of his game to improve in the leadup to the regular season’s return, it should probably be his shooting, not his body mass index.
When the playoffs start later this summer, the Philadelphia 76ers will have Ben Simons in their backcourt alongside Shake Milton and/or Josh Richardson, a situation that was nearly unthinkable three months ago when he injured his back against the Milwaukee Bucks. If he feels as though improving his conditioning will help him avoid another injury, who am I to argue? All I’m suggesting is spending a little extra time in the gym jacking up 3s – we already know he can do it, and do it well.