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Home » Kobe Bryant offered Ben Simmons advice in 2019 that the 76ers star would be wise to heed

Kobe Bryant offered Ben Simmons advice in 2019 that the 76ers star would be wise to heed

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Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was never shy about offering advice to all of the young players that entered the league after him. His words of guidance and encouragement have been credited by countless players as a major motivator. Players from Devin Booker to Giannis Antetokounmpo have used Bryant’s words of wisdom to improve their own games, and Philadelphia 76ers All-Star forward Ben Simmons needs to do the same. 

During an interview with the Herald Sun in 2019, Bryant gave an honest — and accurate — answer when asked what Simmons needs to do to take his game to the next level. Here’s what he had to say:

Well, he gotta get a jump shot. Listen, it sounds humorous and all that, but I’m dead-a** serious. Because if not he’ll regret it when his career is over. And you look at what he is doing now without that and it is astonishing. Now imagine you can shoot the ball, what does that open up for you? You don’t want to retire and look back and go ‘Man, if I just had a jump shot, what would I have done?’

You don’t want that. You don’t want that. So I don’t care if you have to lock yourself in the gym for 10 hours a day. If this kid gets a jump shot, it’s a serious, serious problem. I mean a serious, serious problem. So to answer your question, the sky’s the limit for him. He can be as good as he wants to be. 

It’s been well over two years since Bryant made those comments, and they still ring as true as ever since Simmons still hasn’t improved his shooting stroke. In fact, some may even argue that he has actually regressed in that area. At the very least, Simmons doesn’t appear to be any closer to expanding his shooting range than he was in 2019. 

Simmons is an excellent player, despite his shooting struggles. He’s an elite passer, a solid rebounder, and arguably the most versatile defender in the entire NBA. But, he’ll never reach his ceiling as a player, and the Sixers will never reach their ceiling as a team, if Simmons doesn’t at least try to expand his game on the offensive end. As Bryant alluded to, that’s the type of thing that could haunt a player after his career comes to a close. 

Perhaps Simmons’ performance in the 2021 playoffs will finally serve as a wake-up call. Simmons had a less-than-stellar series against Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he shot a historically poor percentage from the foul line during the postseason. In 12 playoff games, Simmons made just 25 of his 73 attempts from the charity stripe, which equates to 34 percent — the worst mark in a single postseason in NBA history. 

Simmons’ struggles from the foul line clearly shook his confidence, and that leaked over into other areas of his game. In the full seven-game series against Atlanta, Simmons took three total shots in the fourth quarter. He didn’t attempt a single shot in the fourth quarter of five of the seven games. His lack of aggression on the offensive end was a big part of the reason that the Sixers were unable to advance.

Simmons’ shortcomings as a shooter have been well-documented since he first entered the league, and the fact that he has shown little to no improvement after four full seasons isn’t especially encouraging. But, it certainly isn’t too late for that improvement to occur. Simmons is still just 24 years old, and likely still several years away from his prime as a player. Plus, anyone who has watched him warm up for a game in person knows that he’s capable of knocking down shots. He just needs to be more aggressive about seeking them out and taking them in games. 

We’ve seen a plethora of prominent players — guys like Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and LeBron James — improve as shooters over the course of their careers. There’s no reason that Simmons can’t join those ranks, as long as he’s willing to put in the work and commit to improvement. Simmons has yet to heed Bryant’s advice, but he still has the opportunity to do so. Better late than never. 

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