Charles Barkley gets paid the big bucks to have opinions about basketball. But you get the sense that even if he weren’t on TNT with the Inside crew during the NBA season, he’d still be doling out those takes for free to anyone who would listen.
Barkley has never been shy about criticizing young players who need to improve certain aspects of their games, at times ruffling feathers with those who would take umbrage with old-timers like Barkley who they believe have a penchant for condescending to up-and-coming stars.
But Barkley ladles out the compliments just as freely when he feels it’s merited. For instance, he hasn’t hesitated to lavish praise on Sixers star Ben Simmons, who Barkley believes has an opportunity to bring his former team back into contention for many years to come and cement his status an all-time great, if he can only improve one glaring weakness in his repertoire.
“I’m a big Ben Simmons fan,” Barkley said. “And I want him to do like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Keep working on his game, become a very good shooter, because if he keeps working on his jump shot, he’s going to be one of the best to ever do it.”
That’s high praise coming from Barkley. Simmons has already distinguished himself as one of the NBA’s brightest young stars, but as Barkley and everyone else has pointed out on numerous occasions, his lack of shooting will continue to be his Achilles heel.
The consequences have already shown themselves in the postseason when opponents can ignore him on offense while Simmons has yet to figure out how to consistently make them pay in other ways. However, it’s also that time of year when players post videos of themselves showing off their improved game, which Simmons has done with highlights of himself knocking down jumpers during open runs.
We’ll wait and see if that actually translates into the regular season, but if it does, Barkley is correct that Simmons will be able to wreak havoc in a whole new way and give his team a real shot at winning the East.
(Via The Athletic)