Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid: “A Two-Man Game”
Today after the Sixers’ second training camp practice of the 2020-21 season, Ben Simmons addressed the media and spoke about something no one should be concerned about: his jump shot. Simmons said that he’s been working on his shot with assistant coach Sam Cassell.
“Prior to training camp starting we would just go to the floor, work out — a lot of mid-range game, a lot of corner spot-up threes, lane threes, finishing around the rim,” he said on a virtual call with reporters. “A bit of everything. And then more so into training camp after practices and before, getting a lot of shots and reps up.”
Doc Rivers has previously stated that he is indifferent about whether or not Ben Simmons attempts jump shots in an actual game. To a certain extent, I completely agree. Ben Simmons playing aggressive, pushing the ball, and being a facilitator is far more important than actually shooting the ball.
Ben should still be looking for open shots and take them if they are available. It will keep defenses honest and will make it easier for him to spread the floor and facilitate the basketball. Regardless of my opinion, Doc Rivers has been pleased with Ben Simmons during the early days of training camp, calling Simmons a “terror” to opposing defenses.
“In transition, we want to open the floor and get the ball to Ben. … He had a good practice yesterday. He had an off-the-charts practice today. When Ben has the ball, he’s very effective in open space. I think we all know that, right?
Doc emphasized the importance of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons playing together and “taking over” games. He commented on how active Ben Simmons has been during scrimmages this year and working through traps, cuts, and setting picks. This is refreshing to hear about Simmons, who at times lacked off-ball awareness in year’s past. Offensive collaboration between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was few and far between under the Brett Brown regime. Brown designed the Sixers offense around the strengths of Ben and Joel, but there was no cohesion between the two and it hurt both players, as well as the team.
If Doc Rivers gets his way, that will change immediately.
“..I think we’re really trying to get them to do is to play more two-man games with each other,” Rivers said. “They had a great one today that was just an instinctive action. (Assistant coach) Dave Joerger and I were laughing, like, ‘You’re not stopping that.’ But they have to do it instinctively more than us always having to call it. If they can do that, they’re going to be tough to stop.”
Time is certainly of the essence for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to continue to build on this type of chemistry and Rivers is wasting no time in doing just that. According to Ben Simmons, he and Joel are hard at work together on Rivers’ new vision.
“Me reading the defense and knowing when I should cut, get to the rim, slash, or whether I’m spotting up and shooting the shot. So just reading off Jo. We’re going to continue to get better and build our chemistry on the floor, especially with this new team and new players surrounding us. I think it’s just going to be great, because everybody’s really buying in.”
Ben Simmons also praised Dwight Howard for his vocal leadership and athleticism. Even though the eight-time all-star is now 35 years old, he brings a different type of basketball than last year’s backup center Al Horford.
“If I’m getting to the rim, whether it’s a quick pick or a step-up in transition, I know he can go get a lob. But him rolling hard to the rim is also going to draw the defenders down, so I’ll also have that weakside option. It could be Tyrese (Maxey), it could be (Matisse Thybulle), it could be Seth (Curry) or Danny (Green). Anybody could be on the opposite side. So it’s tough to guard.”
With the right coaching this year, the Sixers offense has the chance to be what we all hoped it would be over the past few years: tough to guard.