The Philadelphia 76ers are stuck in a bit of a rut. Since dismantling the Bucks on national TV on Christmas, Philly has lost four in a row to the Magic, Heat, Pacers, and Rockets.
It’s a disappointing way to follow up a performance that showed just how good and dangerous they can be against the team with the league’s best record, and the frustrations of the losing is beginning to show. Al Horford has voiced issues with his role on offense, while Joel Embiid has noted the losing is “taking a toll” on him. With the proximity of this skid to the NBA’s trade deadline in a month, the expectation is that the Sixers will seek some help, particularly in the area of perimeter shooting, over the next month.
Still, barring a significant move, this is the core they’re going to have and finding ways to space the floor and taking open shots is going to be a necessity, even if those shots come from places where players aren’t totally comfortable. For Ben Simmons, that means at least occasionally taking a three-pointer, something coach Brett Brown challenged him to do once a game earlier this season after he hit his second three of the year. On Monday, Brown was asked about how that challenge has gone, given Simmons has not been taking any threes, and he said he has failed as coach to get through to Simmons on this issue.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 6, 2020
It’s interesting to hear Brown talk about this, noting it’s both a failure of his to get Simmons comfortable enough to shoot them with some semblance of confidence but also the onus has to be on Ben to shoot those shots. He is asked at the end of the video what happens when he draws up a play for Simmons to shoot a three and he passes it up and is sure to note that hasn’t happened yet, but does seem to indicate he’s at a bit of a loss for how to get his young All-Star to be a more willing shooter.
The refusal of Simmons to be a threat to even let a shot go when wide open is among the spacing issues the Sixers face — although, to be sure, that’s far from the only problem — and Brown seems to just want that to be an option. What moves the Sixers make in the next month will be fascinating to see if they make any major changes, but either way, the Simmons shooting issue isn’t fading away.