Kobe Bryant’s advice to Sixers star Ben Simmons: Learn how to shoot


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22-year-old Sixers star Ben Simmons has already established himself as one of the best guards in the league in just his second season on the court, but his glaring offensive deficiencies are limiting the Sixers’ potential. Simmons is a phenomenal passer and has an ability to get to the rim – but he may also be the worst jump-shooter in the league.

Simmons is shooting an impressive 56.4 percent from the field this season, but he’s only taken around 9 percent of his shot attempts from beyond 10 feet all year. He’s shooting 24 percent from between 10 and 16 feet, 6.7 percent from between 16 feet and the 3-point line – and he has yet to make a three in his career.

Simmons’ average distance from the hoop on a shot attempt is just 4.1 feet, which is down considerably from 5.5 feet last season. To put that in context, Andre Drummond – who was a sub-42 percent free-throw shooter for the first five seasons of his career – has an average of 4.5 feet this season. Joel Embiid’s average distance is 10.9 feet. If you look at Simmons’ shot distribution by distance, he’s almost a mirror image of 2017-2018 Dwight Howard. Defenses simply don’t have to respect Simmons as a jump shooter, which puts a strain on the Sixers.

During a visit to Australia, NBA legend Kobe Bryant was asked about Simmons’ game – and Bryant didn’t mince words about Simmons’ biggest weakness.

Via the Herald Sun:

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“He’s got to get a jump shot. It sounds stupid and all that but I’m [expletive] serious. Because if not, he will regret it when his career is over….. What he is doing now without that is astonishing. Now imagine if he could shoot the ball. What does that open up for you? You don’t want to retire and look back and go ‘man, if I had a jump shot what would I have done?’ You don’t want that, so I don’t care if you have to lock yourself in the gym for 10 hours a day.”

Simmons reportedly focused on improving his shooting ability last summer, but he’s actually gotten worse from beyond 10 feet in his second season, and he’s only marginally improved his free-throw percentage from 56 to 59.6 percent. The Celtics proved last year in the playoffs that Simmons can be shut down, and until he makes progress with his shot, the Sixers’ loaded starting five won’t be playing at their full potential.

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(All stats via Basketball Reference)

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