There’s basketball on tonight. And Ben Simmons will face his former team in the preseason opener.
The former Sixers 2016 first-overall pick has apparently recovered from offseason back surgery to repair the herniated disc which cost him the second half of the 2022 regular season in Brooklyn (and if you’re counting, it would have cost him the second half of the 2020 season too if not for a pandemic postponement).
But it’s Ben Simmons Shooting Derangement Syndrome season, so you may want to consider an immune-system booster. Fans and media members this time of year often begin to focus intensely on the jump shot of one of the NBA’s worst shooters, while mysteriously neglecting the others.
How does Ben’s shot look? Is he planning to shoot? Did he shoot in a pickup game!? Did he take a three alone in a gym? Did his trainer post it to instagram? Did he approve of said posting? Why would he approve of the post if he didn’t want us to think he’ll shoot? Did he not shoot cause someone asked him publicly to shoot? Did his coach ask him to shoot? Is he working with Kyle Korver? How good could his team be if he’d just shoot?
BSSDS is not a typically fatal ailment, but it can significantly deplete one’s mood and energy levels rendering us into puddles of whiney green sludge for seasons at a time.
It's like watching a movie you've seen a million times with someone who's never seen it. https://t.co/qudMKpYaHY— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) September 27, 2022
The root of the issue makes plenty of sense. If you were a Sixers fan between the years 2013-2021, much of what you used to feel makes sense.
If you went through any of that in 2018, 2019 or 2020, I wouldn’t classify it as derangement syndrome. That was more reasonable. You knew The Process was smart, you put so much of your hopes into the fruits of that Process, got excited for the draft and Ben, the upside was so tantalizing. You had every reason to hope the phenom from Melbourne, the top pick, would be an MVP-caliber player, and that meant him developing a jumper of some sort. But it never materialized.
Over the years he pissed many of us off with his comments about it. Noting he didn’t work on it a ton, or suggesting he didn’t need to. Reports trickled out that he’d prefer to work with his brother than a team shooting coach or rumors that he missed meet ups with team coaches, etc. He didn’t acknowledge that he couldn’t shoot, or explain why he wasn’t even trying to shoot. He was mostly mum on the issue, occasionally hinting he’s an All-Star without shooting.
Somehow it even became trendy to say he didn’t improve at all over the years, even though he blossomed into one of the five best defenders in the NBA, following a rookie year allowing far too many upright blow byes.
His apparent attitude that he didn’t need to improve as a shooter was legit frustrating once upon a time, and looking back with the 2021 playoffs in mind, foreshadowed a real flaw in his game which would only seem to get more prominent as the team’s title expectations rose.
But fast forward though to 2022-23, and we’re well into derangement territory now if we’re really, really curious about his jumper, which based on media coverage, it seems many fans still are.
Ben Simmons shooting 3s at practice. pic.twitter.com/uK3G2RSsPA— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) September 27, 2022
Nets head coach Steve Nash is adamant that it's not his shooting that makes Ben Simmons such a special player.https://t.co/1FkCSG4Ktw— Nets Nation (@NetsNationCP) September 29, 2022
I’d HOPE perhaps the greatest free throw shooter ever in Steve Nash didn’t think Ben’s shooting was what made him potentially special! Glad to see he’s so adamant on that point.
Brett Brown had every right to try to push a young Ben Simmons as a shooter, trying both kid gloves and public pressure, to tap his immense upside.
you know, for all the grief Brett Brown took (right or wrong) for his handling of Simmons, he remains the only coach he has had since high school who has proven willing to publicly challenge him on this.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) September 28, 2022
(not that it actually worked, mind you, but it did happen) https://t.co/dTcjc8Ryy4
But asking Simmons all about his shot now?! And saying he “refuses” to shoot when noting his lack of shooting? And joking about his lack of shooting but not other guys who never shoot? It’s starting to feel weird, isn’t it?
I mean, look up his shot charts, and tell me why on earth people are rooting for his team to want him to take more jumpers?
Are you gonna shoot threes for the Nets?— Jeri Tsai (@JeriTsaiNets) September 22, 2022
"Yea I need to.. I need to just go out there & put some up, 20 threes a game, KD is wide open nope shooting a 3" - Ben Simmons
Via @OldManAndThree https://t.co/bXhc7g0D96 pic.twitter.com/BqvlQmCAX5
This little clip above got misquoted during aggregation. People captioned it, noting that Ben said he was going to take shots this year. Instead, refreshingly, Ben was openly joking with JJ Redick that he’s probably not gonna shoot much because it would take away from Kevin Durant’s opportunities... at least a tacit admission of the underlying crux of this matter: Simmons is a terrible shooter and seems to know it and be able to joke about it now.
Tell Rudy Gobert’s agent, I want him jacking up one per night.
Ben Simmons on him not shooting becoming exaggerated:— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) September 22, 2022
“People in Philly just wanna have something to say about f**king anything man. Literally everything. I post a picture of a f**king car or dog, I got reporters saying ‘He should be in the f**king gym.’”
(via @OldManAndThree) pic.twitter.com/HUlHKVKp9H
Yes, but if Ben could shoot he’d be so much better. With his handles, and the fact that he fancies himself a lead guard, he should be shooting. Everyone agrees he should be! It’s different if a roll-and-dunker-spot big doesn’t shoot than when a lead ball handler won’t.
Sure. So he shouldn’t be a lead ball-handler in a half-court setting. If your team tried to use him that way, you needed to trade for Jimmy Butler and then throw $200M at him while begging him to stay in order to remedy that!!!
If Bam Adebayo was a capable three-point shooter, the Miami Heat might have won the NBA championship in both 2020 and 2022. That’s true, but there doesn’t appear to be much Bam shooting derangement syndrome, right? Why not? Should we begin a campaign?
There’s no StatMuse tracker noting how many calendar years it would take Bam to catch Steph Curry from distance? Maybe some of that is because he’s seen as a big, even though he’s not quite as tall as Ben? But they’re both top five defenders who help their team on the offensive end to a degree in the half-court, if not a ton. Maybe because he isn’t as good of a dribbler? Or can play the five, he fits more tidily into our non-shooters bucket? If Bam suddenly had handles like Ben, would it bother more people that he still didn’t take threes?
But basketball has become relatively positionless, so we should change the way we see...blah blah. I’m probably annoying some or most of you if you came to this Sixers blog.
If you’re a Nets fan, maybe I’m gently suggesting you shouldn’t even hope he shoots. I’d worry more about him playing alongside Nic Claxton.
If I were a Nets fan, I’d be hoping for more of a Draymond Green role for Ben. Sure, you can sag off of him in the half court, but then someone deadly is gonna sprint to him and get an open three off dribble-hand-off. And defensively and in transition, he’s going to hurt you.
If we saw him more like we see other non-shooters, there’d be nothing left to discuss.
We probably should have concluded that with his broken form he wasn’t going to be a plus shooter any time soon... Back in 2019, I wrote at the rate he was going the Sixers would be lucky if he had a serviceable jumper over the course of his next contract, the one that ends in 2025.
If he got his feet pointed right, his elbow in, his hand under not to the side of the ball, his guide hand off the ball then maybe....
If he’d resolved to do so, maybe over the course of a few years he would have improved.
If he proves me wrong this season and shoots well with the same old form, then fine. Then we’ll conveniently pivot to saying the whole thing was mental and he could do it all along but didn’t believe in himself or something similarly tidy to avoid reassessment. More likely, he won’t shoot much and his team won’t want him to.
He’s not the No. 1 pick with unimaginable expectations for Nets fan now. So those fans may still hope he learns to shoot. It was amusing when they seemed excited he was having conversations about shooting with Korver last year.
But let’s prepare to inoculate ourselves to full on derangement syndrome. Nets fans should simply regard Ben more similarly to the way they did Andre Drummond or Nic Claxton. And you’d never say they refused to shoot threes or hope they’d take two per game.
Next time you hear someone wondering about Ben’s shot, simply ask them instead what the Hawks or Timberwolves ceiling might be if Clint Capela or Rudy Gobert can effectively space the floor this season. Ask them for some practice footage of Capela’s long ball or if it’s frustrating for Hawks fans he’s not working on that more. Heck, ask them if Donovan Mitchell or Bradley Beal are working on their defensive slides to unlock their true ceilings. Ask if Beal has the yips on defense if you like.
I’m bored with the “will one of the league’s non-shooters shoot?” stuff. Instead, I’ll be rooting for the Sixers to win the James Harden-Ben Simmons trade, in a landslide.