Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons “[wants] to take” 3-pointers now

Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers’ All-Star has “prepped” extensively to take three-pointers.

The COVID-19 saga continues in America and around the world, which means basketball is mostly an afterthought these days. Luckily for fans of the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons decided to drop some juicy quotes in a recent ESPN feature from Jackie MacMullan.

If you want a good read on this soporific Wednesday afternoon, go ahead and read the whole feature. It’s wonderful. MacMullan is highly acclaimed for a reason. As for Simmons, his most notable quotes deal with the only thing people seem to care about — his three-point shot.

The feature goes in-depth on Simmons’ mentality — his discomfort behind the three-point line, his thirst for accountability, and his risk-adverse nature. Sean Tribe, Simmons’ brother and agent, noted Simmons’ hesitancy to take risks and extend beyond his comfort zone.

"“Ben loves to be efficient. He wants to make the correct move — not the wrong move — and sometimes that’s a hindrance. You need to experiment with things, and sometimes you might fail.”"

This is plenty obvious when watching Simmons play. There is video evidence of him taking (and making) NBA three-pointers. He can shoot, even if he’s not particularly good at it. The issue is mental. It’s a matter of Simmons risking criticism and embracing mistakes. He needs to open himself up to the embarrassment of a cold spell — to the occasional hit piece on First Take. It’s a case of trial and error — he needs to fail before he can succeed.

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Once Simmons is comfortable taking and missing threes, he will have the reps and the experience to eventually improve his efficiency. His desire to play to his strengths is understandable — even natural — but for Simmons, his ceiling lies beyond his comfort zone.

Brett Brown has made a concerted effort to get Simmons shooting. He even threatened to bench him at one point last summer. The organization from top-down wants him to shoot. The people around Simmons want him to shoot. At this point, the onus falls on Simmons.

Tribe put it best.

"“The acceptance of failure is something Ben needs to be comfortable with. That will come along through hard times, experiences of losing.”"

Fortunately enough, Simmons does seem to be making progress. He openly admitted his own need for accountability, which isn’t something you hear from most NBA players. Simmons recognizes his shortcomings, and while the mental gymnastics required to overcome them are different, it’s abundantly clear Simmons is a naturally resilient person.

When the discussion rolled around to his three-point stroke, Simmons noted his extensive preparation and his desire to, at some point, expand his arsenal.

"“I know it’s going to come. It’s a matter of me being comfortable doing it. Some of that is getting the reps in. I can take a hook shot from the elbow, because I’ve done it so many times, I’m confident it will go in. It’s second nature… With 3s, it’s never been like that. I’ve got to make it a point of emphasis. I could be one of those guys shooting 30% right now. But I’d rather be one of those guys shooting 40%.”"

Simmons seems to have a solid grasp on the situation. He needs to get to a point where shooting threes is second nature, which means enduring the inevitable mistakes and the inevitable criticism. Simmons won’t come out shooting 40 percent, but he won’t get there without shooting 30 percent first. It’s a process, and one he needs to embrace.

"“[I need to] step outside my box and take that chance…I feel like I want to take [3s] now, as opposed to being asked to force them up. It could be during the playoffs. I’ve prepped so much for it, when I do it, it will work.”"

This quote from Kevin Boyle, Simmons’ high school coach at Montverde Academy, is the perfect summation.

"“People don’t realize these incredible athletes can lack confidence. It becomes a mental thing.”"

Simmons is a world-class athlete, a two-time All-Star, and one of the most highly-touted prospects in recent memory. It can be difficult for a “regular” person to identify with Simmons’ perceived lack of confidence. How can someone so gifted, so blessed, have so much doubt?

It’s important to remember Simmons’ humanity. Like everyday people, NBA players are saturated with doubt, fear, shame, embarrassment — all the feelings humans deal with on a daily basis. The only difference is, Simmons’ shortcomings are projected on a national stage. If anything, his anxieties are worsened because of it.

People need to give Simmons time and space to breath. He’s a stupendous talent and, in my book, a top-20 NBA player as is. He deserves immense credit for the player he has become, even without a three-point shot.

In the coming months, however, it’s important for Simmons to reckon with his anxieties, overcome his fears, and come to terms with his path to true superstardom. In order to become a three-point shooter, Simmons needs to take the first step — to leap off the diving board head-first.

Next. Sixers' 5 most heartbreaking playoff losses. dark

You need to take ’em to make ’em.