At this point, it's getting difficult for those who criticize Sixers star Ben Simmons often to have credibility on the topic. As the veteran guard continues to roll without a consistent jump shot, Simmons' critics won't stay silenced.
But as time goes on, more notable names in basketball continue to defend Simmons as a player -- jump shot or not. Last season, Doc Rivers praised Ben Simmons when he came to town as the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. At the time, Rivers made it known that his lack of a jumper doesn't take away from his importance to his team on the court.
This year, as the head coach of the 76ers, Rivers' message has remained consistent. "I don't care about Ben's shooting as much as so many other people seem to care about it," Rivers said back in December.
"I care that he's a great player, and I'm gonna let him play. I mean, give him the keys and let him be free and play. If he takes no shots, I'm fine. If he takes ten threes, I'm fine. If he gets to the line 15 times, I'm fine. Ben is brilliant enough for me to allow him to play and not get in his way and try to cloud his head up with a bunch of crap."
This past Sunday, another legendary coach came to Philadelphia to face Rivers, Simmons, and the Sixers in San Antonio Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich. And when asked about Simmons' lack of a jump shot before the game, Pop shot down the hype of the topic while praising the three-time All-Star.
“It would enhance his game. Obviously, that can’t be argued with,” Popovich admitted. “But his skills and all of his physical skills, basketball skills, the way he understands the game, as unselfish as he is, he’s elite already. Who gives a damn if he can’t shoot?”
Well said. Anybody who has the slightest basketball knowledge knows that a jump shot would enhance Simmons' game. But just because he doesn't have it doesn't mean he can't be an elite player already.
Without the shot that everybody desires and begs for, Simmons averages 16 points-per-game. Scoring aside, he's also an excellent playmaker with his passing and is elite defensively. Like every player in the NBA, Simmons isn't perfect and has room for improvement. But at this point, notable figures in basketball continue to point out just how valuable Simmons is to the Sixers as he's a legitimate star.