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At 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Ben Simmons is an athletic marvel as the biggest point guard in the history of the NBA.
The second-year Philadelphia 76ers floor leader is having a spectacular season, averaging 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.4 steals in 34.4 minutes in 65 games.
However, Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Louisiana State, is accomplishing all of that without one key ingredient.
Namely, a jump shot.
“He’s got to get a jump shot,’’ NBA legend Kobe Bryant said of the Melbourne, Australia native, according to The Herald Sun. “It sounds stupid and all that but I’m dead-ass serious.
“Because if not, he will regret it when his career is over.’’
According to statistics on NBA.com, 710 of Simmons’ 793 field-goal attempts this season — 89.5 percent — have come from within nine feet of the basket, where he is shooting 60.2 percent.
On all shots Simmons has taken from 10 feet out, the All-Star has made only 17 of 83 attempts, 20.4 percent. It’s not pretty from the free-throw line for the first-time All-Star, either, as Simmons is shooting less than 60 percent (214 of 357, 59.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
Here’s some clips of LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers completely disrespecting Simmons’ ability to make a shot outside of the paint.
Bryant, while on a two-day visit to Melbourne, said the ability of the left-handed Simmons without a reliable jumper is “astonishing.”
“I think his development will come in shooting, obviously,” the former Los Angeles Lakers great said. “At some point, he’s got to be able to shoot that ball.
“Jason Kidd, when he came in the league, wasn’t a great shooter, but he worked to the point where he became one of the best 3-point shooters we’ve had in our league in history.”
While Bryant’s recollections of Kidd’s shooting from deep is not exactly accurate — Kidd shot 34.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc in a 19-season career — his point is valid.
When Kidd arrived as a 21-year-old with the Dallas Mavericks, he shot 27.2 and 33.6 percent, respectively, in his first two seasons in the league, attempting 3.3 and 4.9 triples per game.
Conversely, Simmons has not made a single 3-pointer in 146 NBA games, going 0-11 as a rookie and 0-4 so far this season.
“That will be his next progression,” Bryant, who shot 44.7 for his career and 32.9 percent from deep in his 20-season NBA career, said of Simmons. “That being said, even without that, he’s been able to dominate and take that city of Philadelphia to a place where it hasn’t been in a very long time.”
Philadelphia (41-25) stands fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff chase entering play Saturday, one game behind third-place Indiana (42-24) and one game ahead of fifth-place Boston (40-26). Simmons and the 76ers host the Pacers in a game with seeding implications Sunday afternoon.