Ben Simmons caused a stir around the NBA when he took the first legitimate three-point attempt of his fledgling NBA career against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 208cm star had eight points, three rebounds and seven assists in the 143-120 win over his friend LeBron James and the Lakers but it was one missed shot early in the third quarter that got the basketball world talking.
Simmons rarely attempts a jump shot outside the key and the Boston Celtics took advantage of that in last year’s playoffs by daring him to shoot.
When queried about his pull-up three-point attempt that bounced off the rim against Los Angeles, the Australian revealed it was part of the team’s plan leading into this year’s playoffs.
Well, there it is. Ben Simmons stepping into a 3-pointer pic.twitter.com/bSkHWQmh0m
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) February 10, 2019
“(They want me to) be more aggressive, take more open shots, and just try to grow my game in that way,” he said.
“It takes time but I’m going to get there.”
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said he spoke with Simmons about expanding his game with longer shot attempts.
“We have a window of 27 or whatever amount of games left and I’d like to try some of this stuff prior to the All-Star break,” Brown said.
Simmons is often filmed shooting three-pointers before games or at practice, making them at a decent clip – something most NBA players are able to do without pressure from opponents or the game situation.
Sixers star Joel Embiid said he let out an expletive when he saw Simmons fire up the three.
“It caught me off guard,” Embiid said.
“And then I’m in a position where I’m like, what just happened?”
Simmons might just look to his friend LeBron for inspiration on improving as a marksman.
James was never shy about shooting from deep when he came into the league but he shot just 29 per cent in his first season.
After a steady increase, including a career-high 40.6 per cent in 2012-13, he now averages 35.2 per cent over the last five seasons.
Simmons responds to NBA legend’s shock news
Magic Johnson and Simmons sent the basketball world into a spin after the NBA great and the young Australian star confirmed they could look to work out together in the off-season.
Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations who is desperate to add All-Stars alongside LeBron James, was cautious with his words after the NBA fined him $US550,000 previously for tampering after comments about Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Simmons is often compared to 206cm Hall of Fame inductee Johnson for their size and similar styles of play as point forwards.
“Trying to learn from somebody like that would be huge,” Simmons said after the win over LA.
On a possible working relationship with Simmons, Johnson said it was the Australian that has contacted him.
“He reached out to me, not to me directly, but to the Lakers, to find out if we could get together this summer,” Johnson told reporters before the game.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to clear it with the league’. Everybody, the Sixers sign off, we sign off, the league signs off that there’s not nothing going on.
“But he wants to know how to play the position as a big guard. It’s fine, I will do that, but if everybody doesn’t sign off, then we can’t get together.”
Simmons is expected to sign a AU$200 million-plus contract extension with the 76ers in the off-season but the Lakers could be on his long-term radar.
James proved his admiration for Simmons on Thursday in the All-Star game draft when he dropped an expletive when opposing captain Antetokounmpo chose the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.
James was so keen to add Simmons to his All-Star squad he traded former NBA MVP and eight-time All-Star Russell Westbrook for his 22-year-old protege.