When Magic Johnson dishes out advice, most basketball players tend to listen. The all-time great point guard had some advice for Ben Simmons following his playoff exit and poor play.
Heavy criticism of the Sixers’ point guard was his shooting, not just in the series against the Hawks, but throughout the season and the playoffs. Unlike most point guards, Simmons has virtually no outside shot and does the vast majority of his scoring closer to the basket.
Johnson had the following to say regarding this aspect of his game.
He is just not aggressive. First, I’m taking him to the gym every day in the summertime, right and we’re shooting playing one-on-one. We’re working out; we’re probably shooting a thousand shots a day both from the outside as well as free throws.
Every day I’m talking to him, getting him going, and so then when the games come every time, he don’t take a shot I’m in his face saying, you were open for that jump shot you got to take the shot because that’s what brings your confidence. The fact that you’re doing it over and over again and finally you are hitting one of them right.Magic Johnson
If anyone has the authority to critique Simmons, it can only be the great Magic Johnson. Just like Simmons, Johnson was an oversized point guard who often ran the floor. His ‘Showtime Lakers’ dominated the 1980’s with himself at the point. However, unlike Simmons, Johnson also developed a decent jumper and became known for his passing and elite scoring ability.
In Simmons’ case, if he improves his scoring, he has the potential to become a superstar. After all, he already averages 7.7 assists and 8.1 rebounds a game over his entire career. On top of that, he is a lockdown defender, averaging almost 2 steals a game and earning three all-defensive team honors.
This year marked a career-low for Simmons in scoring. He also continued his trend of poor free-throw shooting at just 61%. His poor play continued into the playoffs, and his Sixers fell to the Hawks in the second round. As a first seed, this wasn’t very reassuring in the eyes of fans.
While known to be a poor shooter, Simmons could often pass on shots he normally would take. This included a now-notorious play where he passed out of a wide-open dunk. Due to these rash decisions, Simmons’ confidence came under question as well.
Now rumored to be a Sixer again next year, Simmons needs to build his confidence and shooting stroke if he wants to elevate his game. Perhaps he should take Magic’s advice.