After sitting out his first season Ben Simmons was ready to make an impact for the Philadelphia 76ers. He played in 81 games, won rookie of the year and led the Sixers to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Despite all of this success many wonder if he can take his game to another level in just his second season so all eyes will be on him once again.
The Sixers were projected to win 41 games and maybe fight for the 8th seed in the East. We didn’t know what to expect from Ben Simmons, we were unsure how many games Joel Embiid would play and an injury to number one pick Markelle Fultz made people believe the Sixers were not ready yet. Fultz did struggle to make a return, Embiid dominated in the 63 games that he played and Simmons put up some great numbers as a rookie.
As a rookie Simmons averaged 15.8 ppg, 8 rpg and 8 apg while shooting 54% from the field. He also recorded 38 double-doubles and 12 triple-doubles. The biggest problem with Simmons is his shooting. He struggled from the line, hitting just 56% of his free throws. Three-point shooting has taken over the league, everyone is shooting 3s and Simmons attempted just 11 3-pointers and didn’t make one. At certain times in the game he didn’t need to take them, he could get to anywhere on the court.
However, in the playoffs Simmons lack of shooting hurt the Sixers. He was able to dominate the Heat as the Sixers advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12 season. It was a different story against the defensive minded Celtics. Simmons played his worst stretch of basketball against the Celtics. They walled off the basket and Simmons was not able to get to the rim at will and he never thought about shooting any type of jumper. He was held under 20 points in every game and he had a one-point game when he only attempted four shots.
Simmons has to be willing to shoot jumpers. It doesn’t have to be 3-pointers but he has to keep the defense honest and be ready to knock down a mid-range jumper when they give it to him. He has all the tools to be a great player and this season we will see if he can take his game up a notch.