Ben Simmons can’t shoot. Ben Simmons is just a freak athlete. Ben Simmons lacks killer instinct. These are just some of the reactions from pundits and fans alike when scouts such as Chad Ford stand by the highly touted Australian as the indisputable No. 1 pick in June’s draft.
Need these pundits be reminded that LeBron James and Russell Westbrook were mediocre shooters when they entered the league? This season, too, James and Westbrook, are the 2nd and 3rd worst three-point shooters in the league, respectively. But aren’t they top-5 talent? You bet they are.
Future of the point…
Have you been watching Antetokounmpo recently? The Greek Freak is running the point guard position for the Milwaukee Bucks with incredible poise and precision. With his usage rate higher than ever, he’s had a chance to exhibit his full repertoire of offensive skills.
Having improved his handles, Antetokounmpo is beating defenders by euro-stepping from the top of the key, pump-faking his way to a dunk whenever he pleases, spinning through double teams, stealing the ball and turning it into a behind-the-back pass. Also, did you notice how he obliterated this Kevin Durant floater?
Since Antetokounmpo is able to penetrate defenses with such ease, he was destined to play point guard and run the offense. It’s fair to say that he is redefining how a player should operate as the floor general. And for a 21-year-old, that’s mighty impressive.
In March, Antetokounmpo is averaging 18.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals, while shooting a little over 50% from the field. Is there a more gifted all-round player today? You’d be hard pressed to find one. (Watch Above: Video highlights of Antetokounmpo playing PG)
Just like Antetokounmpo, Simmons has extraordinary court vision (averaged nearly 5 assists per game for LSU) for a 6-foot-10 forward. And just like Antetokounmpo, Simmons is comfortable running the floor as a point forward. And just like Antetokounmpo, Simmons is hesitant to shoot from top of the key or anywhere beyond 15 feet.
Giannis gives Ben Simmons hope…
In the age of shooters, which has seen Golden State Warriors shoot over 40% from deep as a unit, Antetokounmpo gives hope to the young Aussie. Antetokounmpo averages only one three-point attempt per game. The 21-year-old Buck made only two shots from deep in the entire month of March.
Similarly, Simmons attempted only three shots from deep through his entire college career with LSU. Despite his reluctance to shoot, Simmons averaged 19.2 points while shooting at 56%.
A few months ago, D’Angelo Russell called it. “He’s (Simmons) so versatile. He was a guy (in high school) you couldn’t put into a box. He did everything…he reminds me of (Giannis) Antetokounmpo.”
Remember, Simmons and Russell played together at Montverde in the high school circuit. Since Russell hasn’t shown the floor vision that was expected of him, drafting Simmons should be the way to go for Los Angeles Lakers.
Even though Magic Johnson reckons Simmons is the most talented freshman since LeBron James, isn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo a more realistic ceiling? If Giannis is the ceiling, doesn’t that make Simmons a worthy No. 1 pick? Certain GMs and coaches will probably prefer Brandon Ingram or Buddy Hield seeing as the NBA is all about putting the ball in the hole.
In conclusion, yes, Simmons’ jumper makes him a less exciting prospect. Just ask yourself the question: Would you prefer Brandon Ingram (hypothetically the next Kevin Durant) or Ben Simmons (hypothetically the next Antetokounmpo)? Who brings more to the table? Those with high basketball IQ know the answer to that question.