In 369 playoff minutes, Ben Simmons took 125 shots — only 11 of them came outside the paint. Simmons made just two of those. He took only one three and we shouldn’t count that one, an end-of-half desperation heave from 35 feet in Game 3 against Miami.
In the regular season, teams could not make Simmons pay for his lack of a jump shot and reluctance to try it, defenders would play off him and Simmons would attack into that space and create. Miami couldn’t make him pay, either. However, Boston got back in their shell in transition and took away the straight line drive Simmons thrives on, then in the half-court again their mistake-free basketball took away Simmons space and easy drive-and-kick plays — there weren’t clear paths to the rim or lanes for passes, and with that Simmons hesitated. The rookie finally looked like one and could not adjust.
This summer, Simmons’ jumper is going to be a focus, Brett Brown said during exit interviews.
Simmons doesn’t need to become J.J. Redick, but as with Giannis Antetokounmpo Simmons needs to become enough of a threat with his shot that teams respect it, then that will open up everything else he wants to do. Brett Brown has said Simmons’ jumper will come around sooner than people think, but that means Simmons has to put in the work.
This isn’t a unique situation. A lot of the most athletic point guards in the league didn’t have jump shots when they entered the NBA — Derrick Rose, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, to name a few — in part because they never needed them. In high school/AAU and college, they could just get to the rim whenever they wanted and score at will. In the NBA that changes. Some guys adjust and develop a respectable jumper, some do not.
If Simmons wants to fulfill his top-10 player, potential MVP potential, he needs to become respectable from the outside. Can he is a matter of debate, but the ball is literally in Simmons’ hands on this.