In case reporters had missed the play itself, Ben Simmons decided to walk through it Thursday night after the Sixers’ blowout win over the Magic.
“I came down," he said, "Aaron Gordon went under Danny (Green’s) pick. Joel (Embiid) threw it to me in the corner and I let it go.”
That’s accurate. Green set a flare screen for Simmons — though it almost certainly wasn’t necessary to create space for him to shoot — and the 24-year-old drained his third regular-season NBA three-pointer.
A reporter tried to coax more out of Simmons than the play-by-play facts of what occurred, but Simmons was resistant in a lighthearted exchange, feeling there wasn’t much to “talk about.”
“I don’t have a long answer for you,” he said at one point with a laugh.
Eventually, he added a little bit more.
“Joel threw the pass,” Simmons said. “He knew I was going to put it up. Those are shots I work on, corner threes. I feel comfortable taking it so I knocked it down.”
New teammate Seth Curry had seen that before, just not in a game setting. Simmons has been working with assistant coach Sam Cassell on many aspects of his game, jumper included, but the three-pointer was only his fourth attempt so far this season from 10 feet away or more, and his first make.
“I’ve seen him make it in practice,” Curry said. “I know he can knock them down, especially from the corners. It’s just a matter of doing it in a game and stepping into it with confidence. It didn’t look like there was too much hesitation on that shot, and I kind of expected it to go in, to be honest. It’s good to see.”’
The jumper was one of three field goals Simmons converted in 25 minutes. He ended close to a triple-double, with nine points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Half of Simmons’ assists were on three-point shots.
It’s become clear that head coach Doc Rivers doesn’t care much about Simmons’ scoring or where his points come from as long as the 4-1 Sixers are winning games and Simmons is impactful in non-scoring ways.
“I thought Ben Simmons, that was amazing,” Rivers said. “You look at him, he had nine points and he completely controlled the game for us, getting into the paint and passing to the shooters.”
Simmons agreed with Rivers’ assessment and was much more talkative on that topic than his outside shot.
“Yeah, I think one thing about me is I could have no points and if we’re up 50, I’m happy,” he said. “I’m not coming out here trying to have a certain average or score 50, 40, 30 points. I’m coming out here to win, and whatever way that is, I’m going to try to do it and get it done — whether it’s defensively or making the right reads offensively and getting the team set.”
Of course, Simmons is far from flawless offensively. The Sixers would likely be a better team if he turned the ball over less, averaged five more points and sunk one or two of those “comfortable” corner threes every game. It’s possible to appreciate his consistently high-level defense and recognize his value kicking the ball out to shooters while acknowledging he has ample room to improve on offense.
Simmons would agree that he’s not perfect or a finished product, as demonstrated by his work with Cassell. Just don’t tell him to talk about making a jump shot.