Last summer, there were videos of Ben Simmons working out and hitting jumpers of all varieties. When asked on media day back in September if he'd take more threes this season, he said, "If it's open, I'll take it."
Simmons hit the first two threes of his NBA career this season, but there were plenty of open looks that he didn't take.
Here we are almost a full year later and similar hype surrounds Simmons. A video of the Australian draining an open three in practice got people's attention. A video put out on Simmons' YouTube channel in which he cryptically hints at shooting more in Orlando while working out in L.A. took it up another notch.
And on Thursday, his head coach wasn't tempering those expectations.
I think just the variety of ways that we're trying to use him helps in some capacity, and I think what is most helpful is his mentality," Brett Brown said in a video conference call. "He's coming down here with just a tremendous spirit. His three-point shot is looking good. He's shot more threes in practice the last few days than he might've for almost half a season. And he looks good, he feels good, and I know he's getting tremendous encouragement from his teammates.
The "encouragement from his teammates" part is nothing new. Joel Embiid has publicly said on multiple occasions that he'd like to see Simmons shoot more from the outside to open things up for the team's offense.
The only new element to add to this endless discussion over Simmons' jumper is his possible new role. Early in camp, Brown has been using Shake Milton as his starting point guard with Simmons playing the four.
So far in practice, Milton has seen Simmons comfortable and confident shooting while also still playing his game.
"He's taking shots and he's knocking them down," Milton said. "He's still athletic, can finish with either hand. Still very unselfish and a willing, great passer. He's doing a good job of leading the team, too. He's performed well."
But will that translate when the Sixers begin playing their scrimmages next week? What about when the seeding games start on Aug. 1? How about the playoffs, where Simmons' limitations have been exposed the most?
If you saw Simmons warm up pregame at the Wells Fargo Center this season, you saw him taking - and making - a bunch of threes. While his form is far from perfect, it has improved after his work with renowned trainer Chris Johnson over the last offseason.
Simmons' recovery from a nerve impingement in his lower back dominated the conversation surrounding the soon-to-be 24-year-old as the team was preparing to head to Disney World. That conversation shifted to his possible new role.
Now, here we are, having the same conversation about Simmons we've had basically since he entered the league.
So, will Simmons shoot when the Sixers start playing games against other teams? Simmons is likely the only one that knows.
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Sixers only adding more to Ben Simmons' shooting hype originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia