He’s heard it from fans and media, and most recently he’s heard it from Kobe Bryant. Bryant was recently visiting Melbourne, Australia, and he told the Herald Sun that Simmons needs to build his jumper to expand his game.
“He’s got to get a jump shot. It sounds stupid, but I’m [expletive] serious,” Bryant said. “Because if not, he will regret it when his career is over.”
Simmons responded, but he didn’t have much to say about Bryant’s statements. He told Keith Pompey of Philly.com that he knows he has to improve his jumper.
“It’s not just the Kobe thing. And I know that,” Simmons said. “I’m trying to develop my game, trying to get better.”
With Simmons regularly hearing how he’s got to shoot better, it’s a storyline that’s going in circles. That’s because Simmons’ shooting development is going to take time.
Simmons works on his shooting in warmups, and he’s made 3-pointers during them as well. But just because his 3-pointers are falling in warmups does not mean he’s going to be comfortable taking them in a game.
Also, Simmons hasn’t needed to shoot 3-pointers because the Sixers’ offense isn’t really geared toward him shooting from distance. He’s mainly supposed to drive into the lane and score, pass out of the pick-and-roll or kick the ball out to shooters.
Simmons isn’t a good shooter, but he also doesn’t attempt many shots beyond the paint or mid-post area. This season, he’s shooting 56.3 percent of his field goals from within three feet of the basket, and he’s shooting 33.4 percent of them from 3-10 feet.
That 3-10 feet area, the area that includes the mid-post, is where Simmons has shown some development this season. Last season, he shot 32.5 percent of his field goals from that area.
The increase for this season isn’t large, but Simmons has displayed how taking shots out of the mid-post can be effective for him. At 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Simmons has the size to battle with most players down low.
He can establish position in the post, and he has the potential to continue building his low and mid-post game by shooting hooks and turnaround jumpers.
Making turnaround jumpers at a decent rate could eventually turn into being easy for Simmons. If he continues to work in that area, he could move on to shooting more midrange jumpers.
And as he builds his midrange jumper, making 3-pointers at a decent rate could become part of his arsenal, too. It’s important that his development come in increments. Even good shooters like JJ Redick and Steph Curry have to be able to shoot on all three levels of the floor.
It’s not imperative that Simmons be as good a shooter as those players. Even Bryant acknowledged in his statements that Simmons’ dominance without a jump shot is “astonishing.” In his second season, Simmons is averaging 17.0 points per game on 56.2 percent shooting, along with 9.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game.
For now, Simmons just needs to improve on being a decent threat from midrange, and the rest will come with time.