Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for the fourth or fifth time, and I’m not quite sure where the shame is located, but you basically have where my feelings were at regarding Ben Simmons and his outside shooting prior to 3:30pm Friday afternoon. I had vowed not to get sucked in again with the whole Ben shooting 3s saga, something that has had more twists and turns than a coaster at Great Adventure. But after his 1-of-2 performance on 3s in a 40-minute scrimmage inside the bubble...I’m kind of...completely back on board now?
Now, I understand why people get frustrated that this area of Simmons’ game gets outsized attention. Just from the yesterday’s scrimmage against Memphis, we could be talking about his disruptive defense, the absolutely perfect no-look alley-oop pass to Tobias Harris, or the play where he traversed the entire court in what seemed like three strides and glided in for an underhand lay-up. At this point, though, we just have to acknowledge that we’re always going to talk about Ben shooting 3s. It’s either going to be “I can’t believe he still won’t shoot them,” or “I can’t believe there was a time when he wouldn’t shoot them.”
Let’s get back to my seemingly irrational decision to start thinking Ben is serious about shooting 3s now. Lest we forget, this isn’t the first time he has made a 3 in an exhibition setting. I know Guangzhou hasn’t forgotten.
Ben Simmons Three Pointer #1: Tuesday, October 8, 2019 vs Guangzhou Long-Lions. 0:00 remaining in 2nd Quarter. Career 3PT%: 0.06 pic.twitter.com/CPZjHhg9FT— Every Ben Simmons Three Pointer (@ThreeSimmons) October 9, 2019
But yesterday was the first time in a professional game Simmons has attempted more than one shot from behind the arc. Unlike the shot against Guangzhou when it took an entire arena to convince him to shoot, the looks yesterday were in normal game situations, taken without much hesitation.
Day 1 of the Sixers playing Ben Simmons at the 4 pic.twitter.com/3WpEdJZtkZ— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) July 24, 2020
Yes, Ben also hit 3s in actual games against the Knicks and Cavaliers earlier this season. But after those makes, the general vibe felt like, “OK, I’ve made a couple 3s, can we stop talking about it now?” When it became clear the 3-point shooting conversation hadn’t subsequently ceased, he stopped shooting them entirely.
Down in Orlando, however, I believe Brett Brown when he says there has been a “paradigm shift,” and Ben has made an “attitudinal change.” I believe Ben when he says, “I’ve been feeling comfortable.” Call me crazy (I definitely feel crazy), but just like wearing masks to go into stores, working from home, and seeing baseball games with cardboard cutouts behind home plate, I believe Ben Simmons shooting 3s is the new normal.
Maybe the fourth summer after being drafted was always when Ben was going to make this natural transition in his game.
Maybe something about not having fans in the stands takes the pressure off him and he’s not afraid to rise and fire.
Maybe the COVID-19 pandemic put Ben in the state of mind of “screw it, life is short, I’m just going to shoot.”
Maybe I’ll look back on this article in three months and feel like an idiot.
That’s sports for you. I’m glad they’re back.