Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons’ shot development can mirror Blake Griffin’s

Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A potential development arc for the Philadelphia 76ers’ star point guard.

This isn’t another article on how Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons should shoot more, or saying he shoots with the wrong hand… We already know if that area of his game does improve, then Simmons can be one of the better players to ever play the game. It won’t be easy for Simmons, shooting is a skill that takes time to develop, especially if you come to the league without a good shot to start from.

A primary example of that is Blake Griffin. Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin’s start to their career is almost identical, whether you like Griffin or not. Obviously their career won’t end up the same way, they are nowhere near the same type of player. But let’s look at both their early careers and see what makes them so familiar.

Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons, what do these players have in common?

More from Sixers News

Let’s look at their first two seasons to compare for both 6-foot-10 men. They were both first overall picks in their respective drafts, they both missed the first season of their career due to injury, they both won Rookie of the Year after their missed season, and they both had over 50 percent field goal rate. These are all fascinating achievements to share  — besides missing their first season due to injury— but even their weakest part of their game mirror each other.

Griffin and Simmons were both — Simmons still is — sub 70 percent free throw shooters, they both shot under 25 threes total in one season, and they both failed to make a leap in their second season.

The negative of having such a great first season, is that expectations are even higher the second season. Failure to have a jump shot does that to you, because of how predictable your game is unless your name is Shaq. Clogging the paint and giving you space to shoot will make it hard for you to score without a proper jump shot. Both Simmons and Griffin were exploited in their second season because of that.

Remember how Ben Simmons was criticized for taking even less jumpers in his second season than his first? Besides the criticism, it was the same case for Griffin who saw a major decrease in jumpers taken. Now for Ben Simmons we will have to wait and see what he does in his third season. As for Blake Griffin, he steadily increased his volume and efficiency on mid-range jumpers every season after that one.

For Griffin, it wasn’t until the 2014-15 season that he started shooting at an at least 40 percent rate from 5-24 foot range. It was also his first season where he shot more shots from five feet out than he did right under the basket. It was also his second season where he shot above 70 percent from the free throw line. Although, he obviously wasn’t the best shooter, his shot was at least a threat from outside five feet. Keep in mind that this was in an era where the mid range was still considered a good shot for most.

As for his three point shot, he finally decided to take more than one shot per game in the 2016-17 season. He was a below average shooter at almost 34 percent. Last season he was finally at around league average at 36.2 percent from three for the first time in his career.

Blake Griffin wasn’t hitting mid range shots at a decent rate till his fifth season in the league. He didn’t shoot over a hundred threes until his seventh season in the league. It took years before Griffin went from shooting horribly, to shooting at a decent rate.

I’m not trying to say that Simmons will take the same time as Griffin did to get a serviceable jump shot. Simmons might take longer, shorter or he might just not develop that part of his game properly (hopefully not, and I doubt this happens). The comparison is to show how similar both players were at the beginning of their career, and it might be an indication of how things would unfold for Simmons.

After watching the preseason, his first instinct is still to go to the basket regardless if he’s open for the three or not. I do believe he will take more threes than last season (not hard to do), however I do not think he will shoot enough for it to change the flow of the Sixers offense. Taking an open shot in the flow of the offense would greatly affect the Sixers in a positive way.

For now, we will have to wait and see what Ben Simmons will do in offense. “It’s just part of the game so if it’s open I’ll take it,” Simmons said. This was an encouraging statement, but we have yet to see it in the flow of the offense.

Next. Former Sixers still in the NBA. dark

It’ll take time for Simmons, and I wouldn’t put it past Simmons to develop the shot faster than Griffin did. Simmons will never be Stephen Curry, nor will he be Shawn Marion, but if he can shoot the three at a league average; sooner rather than later Simmons will be better than Griffin ever was.