Last season in the playoffs, when the Sixers were in the second-round pushing the Raptors to the limit, late in games it was Jimmy Butler as the team’s primary shot creator. Ben Simmons, not a threat as a shooter off the ball, had been relegated to the dunker’s spot along the baseline (where Joel Embiid should patrol, mostly).
This season Butler spending the winter in Miami and the Sixers will go back to having the ball in the hands of Simmons a lot more to be a shot creator. However, what happens when Embiid has the ball in the post or Tobias Harris is the guys creating shots? Does Simmons slide back to the dunker’s spot?
No, expect him in the corner, Sixers coach Brett Brown said Wednesday.
That would be the same Ben Simmons who has never taken a corner three in an NBA game. Not one. Overall he is 0-of-17 from three for his career (although, to be fair eight of those shots were beyond halfcourt heaves, so he’s really just 0-of-9… which doesn’t sound much better).
Simmons can cut out of that spot, the Sixers are especially good at making seemingly random cuts when the ball is in the post and the defense is focused on Embiid. Simmons benefits from that and can from the corner.
“We get the ball to Ben and there’s different actions that can happen behind it,” Brown told NBC Sports Philadelphia in March. “There is a randomness to possibilities that has helped us. But the real key is movement. Playing static is not how we want to play with Ben Simmons on a back down.”
Also notice Brown said today, “at the start of the year.” This is how he hopes it will work out, but he realizes he’s going to have to adjust on the fly.
Brown also said Simmons is more confident in his jump shot now, so we may see more of it.
Simmons is going to have to prove he has a jumper to everyone, particularly opposing defenses, which will continue to back off him and dare him to shoot until he makes them pay consistently.