When Doc Rivers joined the Philadelphia 76ers as the head coach for the first time this season, he made one thing clear; Ben Simmons's lack of a three-point shot is not something he's concerned about.
Fast forward to early April, and the head coach not only stands by his belief that Simmons' three-point shot, or lack thereof, is overrated, but Rivers also thinks that Simmons' recent scoring struggles are as well.
Before the 2021 NBA All-Star break, Simmons flipped a switch offensively and started attacking the basket with aggressiveness we've rarely seen out of him throughout his career. Once the second half of the season started, though, he slowed down.
Over the last five games, Simmons has averaged just 10 points-per-game for the 76ers. He's been draining just 44-percent of his field-goal attempts on eight shots-per-game. Sure, he had a couple of solid outings since returning from the break. For the most part, though, Simmons' All-Star caliber play has been missing.
Is Sixers head coach Doc Rivers at all concerned? Not in the slightest.
“I think Ben’s a facilitator,” Rivers said on Sunday night. “I think that’s what he does. I thought he did great early on, and after that, I thought I thought they all got tired. As the game went on, less and less driving happened. I think (the media) is way more concerned about him scoring than I am.”
Do you think? Rivers' comments came after the Sixers took on a blowout loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Ben Simmons, who checked in for just 26 minutes, attempted six shots and accounted for seven points. Although he was aggressive early on, the three-time All-Star was noticeably a non-scoring factor for the 76ers on Sunday night.
Granted, Philly was coming off a tight win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a game that tipped off less than 24 hours before the Memphis matchup. So, fatigue played a part in Philly's struggles, which was understandable.
However, Simmons' scoring struggles didn't just begin on Sunday. It's been an issue for a couple of weeks now, and the timing couldn't be more unfortunate considering the team's other All-Star and lead scorer Joel Embiid has been out of the Sixers' lineup more often than not lately.
“I think Ben does so many things for this team to help us win,” Rivers continued. “Scoring is just, I’m telling you, the last thing that I’m concerned about.” Rivers isn't wrong when he says Simmons is so important in other areas of the offense. The young guard is simply the best playmaker on the team and sets his teammates up for a lot of success.
But when shots aren't falling for others, and the team needs somebody to step up and take control of the shorthanded offense's scoring, the Sixers should be able to rely on their three-time All-Star to help get the job done. Unfortunately, Simmons still leaves a significant question mark on whether he's able to do that or not.