In his second year as a professional basketball player in the NBA, Ben Simmons is still a work in progress.
He devoted time and energy during the offseason to improving his foul shooting, but judging from what happened when the Philadelphia 76ers played Boston Tuesday night in Philadelphia, Simmons’ inability to shoot free throws at anywhere near the efficiency usually supplied by someone playing the point guard position was a major contribution to the 112 – 109 lost to arch rivals the Boston Celtics.
It is not completely fair to blame the loss entirely on Simmons, as his teammates could have easily found spots throughout the game to make plays that would have accounted for the three-point loss.
Simmons went to the foul line seven times, however, and made only two of those attempts. Had he made five of seven, which equates to a 71.4 percentage efficiency, the game could possibly have resulted in a regulation time tie.
Boston held Simmons to 16 points on the night, but not through any profound strategy on the part of the Celtics, other than perhaps to limit his touches. Simmons was five from seven from the field, so that aspect of his game is far beyond reproach.
The other glaring deficiency is in three-point shooting. Simmons not only does not make those, he does not take those. He has made one three-point attempt for the entire season to date.
With his 6’ 10” height (208 cm), Simmons is a match-up nightmare for guards from opposition clubs. They respond by guarding Simmons with one of their bigs, which leaves Simmons with plenty of chances for assists, and his figures in that statistic supply the necessary evidence.
One perspective is that Philadelphia needs to find a point guard who can direct the offense with skill equal to Simmons, so that Simmons could be moved to the shooting forward position.
The flaw in that strategy is that Simmons might draw more fouls in the act of shooting, but his poor foul shooting could cost the 76ers even more easy points than it did in the game against Boston.