Ben Simmons’ jump shot is broken and his confidence is shaken. However, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers thinks that it can be fixed, and he is not ready to give up on the former No. 1 pick.
“I’m very bullish on Ben still,” Rivers said Monday. “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 to be honest with it.”
That strikes a different tone from Rivers’ comments after the 76ers’ Game 7 loss to the Hawks. Rivers said “I don’t know” when asked if Simmons could be the leader of a championship team.
The 24-year-old is coming off a disastrous playoff series. Simmons did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter in the final game of the 76ers’ season. This marked the fourth consecutive game in which he shied away from shooting in big moments. Simmons finished the game with just five points on 2-for-4 shooting.
The 6-foot-10 point guard’s shooting struggles reached the free-throw line this season. Simmons set an infamous free-throw record in this year’s playoffs by going 25-for-73 from the charity stripe. Simmons’ free-throw percentage of 34.2% is the lowest percentage in a single playoff in NBA history.
“I think some of the stuff is obvious,” Rivers said. “We’re not hiding that Ben has to become a better free-throw shooter, and a more confident free-throw shooter. If that happens, I really believe a lot of the other parts of his game will follow. I said that before the season started. The first thing I said was, ‘We got to get him to the line 10 times a night.’ So, we’ve got to put in work so he can get there. But if we can get him there, man, his game goes to a different level.”
Simmons received backlash from fans following his performance this postseason. They have been ruthless all over social media. He even was called out by some big NBA names.
“Obviously what Ben just went through, I can’t imagine that. Because he has so much greatness in all the things around him that he does,” Rivers said. “There are areas that he can fix, quickly, in my opinion, and get better, that will take 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.”