Steve Nash says Ben Simmons is ‘a special, special player’

Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has one of the most unique skill sets in the NBA, and yet, what’s focused on is that he doesn’t shoot from outside the paint often.

Steve Nash, though, put Simmons’ skills into perspective Saturday night following the Sixers’ win over the New York Knicks. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Noah Levick, Simmons told media that he talked with Nash after the game.

“Ben’s a generational talent,” Nash said, per NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Noah Levick. “Crazy athlete, can play multiple positions on offense and defense. Obviously his glaring weakness is the shooting, but he’s so gifted that he can make up for it in other ways, and it’s about finding a way for him to be at his best for this group. And that’s a challenge for this club, is how do all the pieces fit together? Ben’s ability at both ends of the floor is unique and he’s a special, special player.”

Nash praising Simmons means something. A Hall of Fame point guard, Nash was a two-time MVP during his 18-year career. He’s ranked third all-time in assists, and he shot 42.8% from the 3-point line.

Simmons has shown at least a bit progress in his shooting this season, as he’s made the first two 3-pointers of his career. Simmons’ main strength is his playmaking. His mixture of size, vision and basketball IQ helps him set up teammates, and this season he ranks fifth in assists per game.

Nash added he thinks Simmons can be effective, even if he continues to not shoot from distance much.

“He can, in the right environment,” Nash said, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. “If he can figure out how to make some shots in some parts of the court, it can change everything. … He can do so many things. He can change positions four or five times in a game. That in itself is huge.”

Simmons being a gifted paint scorer is a part of his game that shouldn’t be overlooked. According to NBA.com, Simmons ranks first among guards for post ups (4.0), and he averages the most points on post ups for the position (1.5). He also ranks eighth in the league for points in the paint (12.6).

The Sixers have a big team, and with Simmons being a big guard that doesn’t shoot much, the spacing sometimes gets messed up. Still, there are ways the Sixers can use Simmons in different actions.

They’ve worked on using Simmons as a screener more, which can aid in creating spacing. Simmons could be in more actions going downhill and put pressure on defenses.

For the Sixers, searching for ways to maximize Simmons’ talents will be one of the keys to improving as the second half of the season begins.

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