The Philadelphia 76ers confirmed everybody’s worst fears on Tuesday, that No. 1 pick Ben Simmons needed surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot after rolling his ankle during a team scrimmage.
The injury is worrisome because other big men in the NBA have suffered similar injuries and have had entire seasons derailed. Kevin Durant missed the start of the 2014-15 season after suffering a Jones fracture to his foot and then later missed the last 28 games when it turned out he needed an additional surgery.
While the 76ers would not give a timetable for Simmons’ return, it seems safe to assume that considering his age and the current state of the team (i.e. they are not a playoff contender), the Sixers will be extra careful with Simmons. That suggests he will miss a large chunk of games, if not the entire season.
But this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The injury will give Simmons a chance to become a better all-around player.
Head coach Brett Brown recently addressed Simmons’ injury and noted that the team told Simmons that this injury is an opportunity to help him become better prepared for making the jump to the NBA. Specifically, Brown mentioned that they could use this opportunity to fix Simmons’ biggest flaw: his shot.
“There needs to be understanding that there’s an opportunity to educate (Simmons) in the film room, watching different NBA players and teaching him,” Brown told the media (via Philly.com). “There might be an opportunity where we sit him in a chair and remake his shot, rebuild his shot, and really spend time with the fundamentals of his shot.”
For all of his talent, most have long agreed that Simmons is not a good outside shooter and that this could hurt his game in the NBA, where more and more big men are stretching the floor and shooting from distance.
Take a look at Simmons’ shot chart from his most dominant game during his one season at LSU, when he scored 43 points against North Florida. Every shot was either in the lane or just a step outside (via ESPN).
There has been some speculation that Simmons’ shot is not that bad, that he just didn’t need it in college because he was so dominant inside.
But now we have the head coach of the 76ers giving a brutally honest assessment of Simmons’ shooting ability: it needs to be fixed.
Here is an example of Simmons’ shot, via the Washington Post. It’s not pretty, even with defenders laying off of him, daring him to shoot:
During his one season of college basketball, Simmons made just 31% of his jump shots, according to the Washington Post, and scored just 0.64 points per possession on jump shots. That ranked 6,446 out of 6,797 players with at least 40 jump shots.
“When I look at the mechanics of his jumper, I notice a few glaring problems. The timing is a little off, which in turn throws the whole thing out of whack. His elbow is too high, creating an awkward pushing motion rather than a fluid flick. Shooting from this position can cause a shot to be flat rather than having the optimal arc trajectory. The high elbow also causes his head to push back a little too much. The poor timing creates a situation where he often releases the ball after reaching the apex of his jump. Shooting on the way down results in a shot that is almost completely taken with power generated by the arm. He rarely gets full extension of his shooting arm during his follow-through which creates more inconsistency. All of these things can be fixed easily.”
You can see some of these problems in this GIF, including the elbow near his head, a flat shot that never leaves the screen, the head leaning back, and shooting on the way down:
But now Simmons has some time to really break things down and rebuild his shot from scratch. Clearly he did not have time to do that prior to this season.
So while we have to wait a little longer to get our first true glimpse of Simmons taking on other NBA players, the package may end up being even better than we anticipated.
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