Even if the Boston Celtics sweep the Philadelphia 76ers in their Eastern Conference semifinals series via a win in Game 4 Monday night, the future remains bright for the young Sixers.
And Kobe Bryant has a way for the young squad to be even more formidable next season — for their point guard Ben Simmons to start from scratch, totally reconstructing his jumper. Even if it’s just for aesthetic reasons.
“Just aesthetically I would say build that thing anew,” Bryant said laughing, while recently appearing on Fox Sports Radio’s Chris and Caron show, as reported by Yahoo Sports senior writer Chris Mannix’s Facebook account.
Although the statement was made partly in jest, there’s some truth to the statement as well.
After mustering one measly point on 0-for-4 shooting in the Sixers’ Game 2 loss, Simmons bounced back in Game 3, shooting 8-of-14 for 16 points, but went just 1-for-4 during the fourth quarter and overtime of Philly’s 101-98 loss. That, and his lazy inbounds pass, which led to an Al Horford steal, essentially sealed the Sixers’ fate with 5.5 seconds left in OT.
Overall, Simmons’s shooting form isn’t anywhere as easy on the eyes as the 6-10 point guard’s court vision, ability to distribute the ball and find teammates for open looks and rebounding prowess.
Also, his lack of a three-point shot is glaring, as he hasn’t attempted a single shot from beyond the arc during these playoffs, going 0-for-11 in threes during the entire regular season.
That being said, Bryant didn’t think the 21-year-old rookie’s jumper was the main blame for the Sixers’ Game 3 loss on Saturday.
“I don’t think the game came down to that though,” Bryant said of Simmons’ shooting. “I think on a fundamental level, being able to get open off the ball is what did them in. They just tried to pop free for the ball and in that situation you can’t do that. You got to put your body on your defender, hold them off and now you got to pop for the ball. Those are just basic, fundamental things, but those little fundamental things are what cost teams playoff series’ and eventual championships.”
Bryant added: “So it’s those little fundamental things that you’ve really got to focus on from Day 1 in training camp, because if you lose sight of that it comes back to haunt you. In the league, in the NBA, it tends to be overlooked. But Phil [Jackson] never overlooked that stuff. We would do basic things. How to pop for the ball, b-cuts, proper bounce passes, left hand passes, right hand passes. All those little things. As you saw in that Philly series, there were two plays where they turned the ball over on passes.”
Wise words from the Black Mamba. If the Sixers’ season ends tonight in Philly, perhaps Simmons will take Bryant’s advice to heart and rebuild that jumper of his to come back this fall with a more potent all-around game.