“Where can we trade Ben Simmons?” is everyone’s new favorite parlor game around the NBA. To Portland for CJ McCollum? To Chicago for Zach LaVine? Maybe Toronto for Pascal Siakam? Golden State for Andrew Wiggins… no, that doesn’t make sense for anyone.
It’s everyone’s new favorite game, except for Doc Rivers. Speaking to the media, he talked about fixing Simmons’ shooting and confidence issues — he was talking about what Philly needs if Simmons stays. Simmons is just 24 and Rivers isn’t going to give up on him. Via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“I know exactly what we want to do,” Rivers said. “I’m positive in Ben. I’m very bullish on Ben still, but there’s work. There is. And Ben will be willing to do it, and that’s the key. Sometimes you have to go through stuff to see it and be honest with it. Obviously what Ben just went through, I can’t imagine that, because he has so much greatness around him in all the things that he does.
“And there’s areas that he can fix quickly, in my opinion, and get better, and that will get him to another level. Sometimes you don’t know why you’re in different places. You know what I mean? But this may be one of them. I look at this as a great challenge, but definitely a doable one.”
Could switching Simmons’ shooting hands be the big change Rivers is talking about?
Simmons shoots jumpers lefthanded, but he has admitted before his father forced him to use his left when younger and he stuck with it. Ask Simmons to sign an autograph and he uses his right hand, as he does with most things — including shooting a basketball around the rim.
Ben Simmons took 95 shots in the playoffs. He tried…
67 shots using his right hand
19 shots using both hands
9 shots using his left hand
In his career, over 70% of his shots are righty.
Simmons in 2016: "I think I was supposed to be right-handed." https://t.co/6Ox3L37jdY
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 21, 2021
On his podcast earlier this season, J.J. Redick said he used to encourage Simmons to switch shooing hands. Simmons finally may heed that advice, with ESPN’s Brian Windhorst saying that is one of the things Simmons is considering this offseason.
Maybe switching hands would help, but Simons was so deep in his own head by the end of the playoffs — as evidenced by his dump-off pass to Matisse Thybulle — that any reclamation project has to start there. It’s going to start with getting his confidence back, and with that getting a consistent free throw stroke that he trusts. Simmons not fearing getting fouled is step one on his road to recovery.
Whether that recovery happens in Philadelphia is another question.