Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is often criticized for not taking three-pointers. But he still greatly helps his team from long range.
Simmons has not even attempted a three-pointer this season, which might hurt his ultimate standing in terms of personal development. But the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year has assisted on 152 field goals from beyond the arc. That ranks as the most in the league, nine ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Philadelphia star is currently averaging 3.53 assists per game that lead to three-pointers, per Justin Jacobs. In fact, he has assisted on 31.4 percent of the shots Philadelphia has connected on from long-range. This is helped by the fact that, according to Synergy Sports, 43.1 percent of his assists have been on three-pointers. Overall, Simmons has averaged 2.46 points per assist.
JJ Redick has made the most three-pointers (40) after passes from Simmons this season. But rookie guard Landry Shamet has been the most helpful to the cause, shooting 35-for-66 (53.0 percent) on three-pointers when the point forward has set him up.
His teammates are currently shooting 35.3 percent from long distance when Simmons is on the floor, producing 10.6 three-pointers per 48 minutes. For comparison, the league average accuracy from downtown is 35.4 percent on an all-time high of 11.0 connected three-pointers per game.
Compare that with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who last season shot 35.4 percent from three-point range and averaged 10.8 three-pointers per game. That means that even when Simmons is on the court, Philadelphia shoots at nearly the identical rate of an average team despite his complete reluctance to attempt a three-pointer.
During the minutes that Simmons has played alongside Redick and Shamet, the team has shot 36.0 percent from three-point range and has averaged 12.2 three-pointers per 48 minutes. When contrasted with other teams, that would rank as the fourth-best in the Eastern Conference.
Opponents need to account for both Simmons and big man Joel Embiid, who both rank Top 10 in the NBA for points per game in the paint.
As such, the two players often require a double team from defenders. This leaves their teammates open or wide open if they hang out on the perimeter, where they wait for a pass from one of the best facilitators in the league. Which leads us to an interesting question: if the 76ers are making enough three-pointers when he is on the court, does it matter who is hitting them?
Philadelphia will inevitably look into possible trades, the free-agency pool and the buyout market for more shooting talent. If they can find another player who can hit three-pointers, it might not be the end of the world if Simmons does not step beyond the three-point line.