Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons has a weakness at the charity stripe and the Washington Wizards tried to exploit that on Wednesday.
Simmons, 21, set a record for most free throws in a fourth quarter (24) against the Wizards. Washington tried the hack-a-Shaq strategy to force the young player to take as many shots from the line as possible.
The former No. 1 pick made 15 free throws on the night, just above half of his attempts. It was an interesting idea for the Wizards to force Simmons into a weakness.
Among those in the NBA who have attempted as many free throws as he has so far this season, only Dwight Howard has had worse accuracy.
Like the video above (and similar footage) suggests, he’s likely working towards a change. It won’t happen overnight but a tangible transformation could be on the horizon.
Kevin O’Connor wrote about Simmons in a recent column (via The Ringer):
“If you’ve been paying close attention so far, you’ll notice every video clip above features Simmons scoring with his right hand. If you had to guess, you’d assume he’s a righty. But he shoots jumpers and free throws with his left hand. That’s a problem. At LSU and summer league in 2016, Simmons hit only 18 of 63 jumpers (or 28.6 percent), per my research. He’s a bad shooter and he knows it.”
As O’Connor mentioned, it’s not that Simmons is unaware of this bizarre predicament. He once told reporters he thought he was “supposed to be” right-handed but his father made him shoot and dribble with his left hand.
In fact, former NBA player Jalen Rose believes Simmons will eventually switch away from being a lefty.
“Regardless of Simmons being a natural righty, trying to retrain more than a decade of muscle memory is something you would almost never suggest. But the baseline of infrequency and ineffectiveness breathe life into the debate.”
So it’s no surprise he struggled when all of the evidence shows he’s not using the correct hand.
If more teams realize the problem, they may continue to force him to the free throw line like the Wizards did if he doesn’t make a transition soon.