After a brutal playoff run capped off by a dreadful performance during the Western Conference Semifinals that led to their elimination, the Philadelphia 76ers are buckling down on the offensive woes of Ben Simmons.
The Sixers are expected to explore trading the three-time All-Star and 2018 Rookie of the Year, but head coach Doc Rivers says that the team plans to work with Simmons on improving his shooting during the offseason.
“I believe, without going into detail with what we’re doing, I believe we know what the right work is, and the right type of work, and the right way to do it,” Rivers said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.
“You can do the work all the time. But if it’s not done in the right way and the right type of work, you may not improve. After being here for a year, I really do believe we’ve identified what and how, and now we have to do the do part. We have to work to do it. It’s not going to be an easy job. But it’s definitely a job that Ben can do.”
“We’re not hiding that Ben has to become a better free throw shooter and a more confident free throw shooter,” Rivers said. “If that happens, I really believe a lot of other parts of his game follows. I said that, if you remember, before the season started. First thing I said was, ‘We got to get him to the line 10 times a night.’ And to want to get to the line 10 times a night. So we’ve got to put in work so he can get there. But if we can get him there, man, his game goes to a different level.”
Simmons is doubtful to play for Australia in the Tokyo Olympics and is expected to announce a formal decision sometime this week, but he reportedly plans instead to spend the summer working on his game.
“I ain’t shoot well from the line this series,” Simmons said following Philly’s loss in Game 7 to the Atlanta Hawks. “Offensively, I wasn’t there. I didn’t do enough for my teammates. … There’s a lot of things that I need to work on.”
“I am positive in Ben,” Rivers said. “I’m very bullish on Ben still. But there’s work. There’s work. There is. And Ben will be willing to do it. Sometimes you have to go through stuff to see it, and be honest with it.
“Obviously what Ben just went through … I can’t imagine that. Because he has so much greatness in all the things around him that he does, and there’s areas he can fix quickly, in my opinion, and get better, that will take him to another level. And, you know, sometimes you don’t know why you’re in different places, you know what I mean? But this may be one of them, and I look at this as a great challenge, but definitely a doable one.”