Former All-Star defends Ben Simmons over shooting struggles

One of the purest jump shooters of the last decade is offering an interesting take on Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking this week with TMZ Sports, former NBA swingman Joe Johnson, a seven-time career All-Star, pushed back on the notion of Simmons’ jumper being broken.

“I honestly don’t think nothing’s wrong with it,” said Johnson. “Obviously, you see him playing pickup basketball shooting jumpers, fadeaways, threes. So we all know it’s there.

“He just has to take that same confidence that he has in pickup and translate it to an NBA game,” Johnson added. “That’s it. You’re gonna miss and make shots. You can’t worry about the misses. He’s just got to continue to take them. It’s a psyche thing. It’s confidence. When he step on the court, he has to have the utmost confidence because talent-wise, it’s there.”

Johnson, who played 18 years in the league, was a solid three-point shooter. He hit 37.1 percent for his career from deep, topping 40 percent in multiple seasons, and even competed in the Three Point Contest a couple of times.

Simmons has a long way to go to get there, to say the absolute least. He has only attempted 36 threes in his entire career, regular season and playoffs, connecting on a whopping five of them. Simmons’ extreme hesitance to even think about attempting a shot outside of the paint severely caps his team’s upside and has led to countless jokes and memes. If Johnson is right that Simmons’ problem is one with confidence, even that may be too much for Simmons to overcome entering his fifth career NBA season.

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Related slideshow: Redrafting the 2016 NBA Draft (Provided by Yardbarker)

Redrafting the 2016 NBA Draft

With as many as 11 future All-Stars, the 2016 NBA Draft might end up being the best draft in the 2010s. While a couple of teams nailed their lottery pick in the draft, a handful of other teams – like the Suns, T’Wolves and Kings – made monumental whiffs that they’re still trying to recover from today. Knowing what we know now, let’s give everyone another shot and see how the picks would play out in a redraft of the 2016 NBA Draft.

1. Philadelphia 76ers: Jamal Murray (7)

Original Pick: Ben Simmons[Exploding-head emoji] That’s right – knowing what we know now about the fit in Philadelphia with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the 76ers shock everyone and draft bubble superstar Jamal Murray. Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown were options here as well, but could you imagine the Jamal Murray we’ve seen these past playoffs (26.5 ppg., 6.6 apg., 4.8 rpg., 51-45-90 shooting) running pick-and-rolls with Joel Embiid instead of Nikola Jokic? It wouldn’t look as aesthetically-pleasing, but it could be equally devastating.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Ben Simmons (1)

Original Pick: Brandon IngramRarely does the team with the no. 1 overall pick not select the player with the highest floor and potentially the highest ceiling in the draft. But because of the terrible fit between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Simmons is available at no. 2, and the Lakers happily pick him up. Even if he never develops a jump shot whatsoever, Simmons’ peak should resemble something like peak Draymond Green. At his best, Simmons’ peak could be incredible – he could easily be the best defender in the NBA while also being the best playmaker in the league.

3. Boston Celtics: Brandon Ingram (2)

Original Pick: Jaylen BrownAs great of a fit as Jaylen Brown is next to Jayson Tatum for the current Celtics, Ingram has a higher upside and his skills don’t overlap to the point where he’d clash with Tatum on the court. His laid-back personality also should mesh well with Tatum’s alpha-dog attitude. Ingram won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award last season after putting up an impressive 23.8 ppg., 6.1 rpg. and 4.2 apg. with 46-39-85 shooting splits last season.

4. Phoenix Suns: Jaylen Brown (3)

Original Pick: Dragan BenderInstead of taking a monumental bust in Dragan Bender, the Suns select a perfect complement to Devin Booker in Jaylen Brown. Brown is a dog on defense and can defend basically any position on the court at a high level. He can also create some of his own offense (20.3 ppg.) and space the court (38.2 percent from three).

5. Minnesota T’Wolves: Domantas Sabonis (11)

Original Pick: Kris DunnAfter Murray, Simmons, Ingram, and Brown, any of the next six or seven players could justifiably be chosen here at no. 5. In my opinion, Domantas Sabonis is actually the most valuable of them all. He made the All-Star Team last season and averaged career highs in every major statistical category (18.5 ppg., 12.4 rpg., 5.0 apg.). He also led the league in screen assists with seven per game. His passing and screening abilities from the high post would work well with Karl-Anthony Towns’ shooting guard-like package of skills and cause awkward mismatches for opponents.

6. New Orleans Pelicans: Pascal Siakam (27)

Original Pick: Buddy HieldHad this redraft been done before the shutdown in March last season, Siakam may have gone as high as no. 4 as he was playing like an All-NBA player (23.6 ppg., 7.5 rpg., 3.6 apg. on 46-36-80 shooting). Unfortunately, his performance in late-August and early-July left a poor taste in everyone’s mouth as he was not ready to be the go-to guy on a championship contender just yet (14.9 ppg., 7.4 rpg., 3.3 apg. on 38-13-73 shooting). And while I’m sure he’d love to be paired with KAT, Anthony Davis is even better.

7. Denver Nuggets: Buddy Hield (6)

Original Pick: Jamal MurrayThe Nuggets lose out on a franchise guard in Jamal Murray, but come away with one of the best three-point shooters in the world (career 41.1 three-point shooter on nearly seven attempts per game). Nikola Jokic is such a great offensive facilitator that this fit may have been even better than Jokic and Murray were until this past postseason when Murray took his game to an All-NBA level. In fact, with Hield showing signs of being a malcontent in Sacramento, I wonder if the Nuggets would make a move for him – maybe Gary Harris and Bol Bol or a lightly protected first round pick??

8. Sacramento Kings: Malcolm Brogdon (36)

Original Pick: Marquese ChrissFor a franchise that hasn’t consistently won for over a decade, a stable two-way guard like Malcolm Brogdon would be a perfect piece to start to turn things around with. Brogdon won the Rookie of the Year in 2016-17 and has continued to improve each season, averaging career highs in points, rebounds and assists this past season for the Pacers (16.5 ppg., 7.1 apg., 4.9 rpg.). He’s also a career 38.5 percent shooter from three, so he can easily slide between the lead ball handler and off-ball.

9. Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Jakob PoeltlDespite the allure of Caris LeVert, this is an obvious choice for the Raptors – they’re taking Fred VanVleet and not thinking twice about it. VanVleet is a perfect complement to Kyle Lowry and has developed into a certified star after improving all four years in the league. VanVleet was awesome for Toronto during their championship run in 2019, and averaged 17.6 ppg. and 6.6 apg. while shooting 39 percent from three and leading the league in deflections with 4.2 per game.

10. Milwaukee Bucks: Caris LeVert (20)

Original Pick: Thon MakerThe Bucks have to be thrilled to be getting Caris LeVert this late in the redraft – it really goes to show how deep this draft class is. Although he’s been a little injury prone during his four-year career, LeVert has improved each and every year, including this past season when he posted an impressive 18.7 ppg., 4.4 apg., 4.2 apg. stat line. LeVert would be a good perimeter player to pair with Giannis as he can create his own shot and also has some decent playmaking chops.

11. Orlando Magic: Dejounte Murray (29)

Original Pick: Domantas SabonisIt’s a shame that Murray missed the entire 2018-19 season with a torn ACL because it really seemed like he was poised for a breakout. Last season, he improved subtly (10.9 ppg., 5.8 rpg., 4.1 apg.), but was clearly still getting used to playing on his surgically repaired knee. The Magic select him here at no. 11 and hope that he doesn’t injure that knee again because he was already an All-Defensive team player in his second season. If he even develops a jump shot on offense, look out!

12. Utah Jazz: Malik Beasley (19)

Original Pick: Taurean Waller-PrinceThis is a difficult inclusion in this redraft because of the recent felony charges against Malik Beasley, but for the purposes of this exercise we’re going to only consider what he’s done on the basketball court. On the court, Beasley really seemed to start to breakout (20.7 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 42.6 percent from three) after he was traded to the T’Wolves this past trade deadline. He appeared to be developing into a high-level three-and-D wing. Teams can never have enough three-and-D wings, so the Jazz scoop up the best one left at this point of the draft.

13. Phoenix Suns: Ivica Zubac (32)

Original Pick: Georgios Papagiannis (traded to Kings)Ivica Zubac is a very solid, starting center for a Finals contender. While his traditional numbers aren’t all that impressive (8.3 ppg., 7.5 rpg.), his advanced numbers are good (21.7 PER) and positive impact on the game is obvious when you watch the Clippers play. If he were to be selected by a team like the Suns, he’d be playing a lot more minutes that he currently plays for the Clippers (18.4 mpg.) and would probably be more of a household name.

14. Chicago Bulls: Alex Caruso (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Denzel ValentineWut?!? That’s right – the Caru-show closes out the lottery. Think this is too high? Let’s put it this way: the NBA champion Lakers would take Caruso over every player selected in this redraft hereafter. While his numbers are not exciting, Caruso’s impact is clear when you look at the advanced numbers – like the Lakers having a plus-10.4 rating when Caruso was on the court this past season. The Bulls absolutely need more winning players like the Bald Mamba, so they grab him at 14.

15. Denver Nuggets: Dorian Finney-Smith (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Juan HernangomezWhile Taurean Prince might seem like a more obvious pick here, the Nuggets are going with Dorian Finney-Smith because of his consistent improvement that looks like it should continue for another couple years as he enters his prime. Finney-Smith is a good defender and is coming into his own as a three-and-D wing (37.6 percent from three). The Nuggets will happily take as many of those as they can collect to put around the Joker.

16. Boston Celtics: Taurean Prince (12)

Original Pick: Guerschon YabuseleAfter showing some serious promise in his second NBA season (14.1 ppg., 38.5 percent from three), Prince has tapered off a bit these past two seasons, averaging 12.1 ppg. and shooting only 33.9 percent from three. Hopefully, he starts improving again, but even if he doesn’t, the Celtics would happily grab a starting-caliber wing at pick no. 16 in this redraft.

17. Memphis Grizzlies: Danuel House Jr. (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Wade BaldwinThe Grizzlies take the third straight three-and-D wing in a row at pick no. 17 and select Danuel House Jr., who was originally undrafted. House averaged 10.5 ppg. and 4.2 rpg. and shot 36.3 percent from three this past season for the Rockets. He projects to be an above-average three-and-D wing for his entire prime and will probably be paid handsomely in the future.

18. Detroit Pistons: Jakob Poeltl (9)

Original Pick: Henry EllensonJakob Poeltl is a boring selection here by the Pistons, but it’s the right choice. He’s a solid big man who can finish around the rim (62.4 percent from the field) and protect the basket fairly well (2.9 blocks per 36 minutes). Though he only played 17.7 mpg. last season, the Spurs posted an impressive offensive rating per 100 possessions of 125. Detroit gets a consistent rotational big man at no. 18.

19. Denver Nuggets: Kris Dunn (5)

Original Pick: Malik BeasleyWhile Kris Dunn will be remembered as a bit of a bust for the T’Wolves, that doesn’t mean he’s not a legit NBA player still. In fact, Dunn has developed into one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA (2 spg.), and probably would have been an All-NBA defender this past season had he played a little more for the Bulls. The Nuggets grab him here and hope that he can his cutting will make him a more effective offensive option with a guy like Jokic running point in the half court.

20. Indiana Pacers: Derrick Jones Jr. (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Caris LeVertAs seen by his Slam Dunk Contest victory in early 2020, Derrick Jones is one of the best athletes in the NBA. The Heat have done a nice job of parlaying that athleticism into some hellacious off-ball zone defense and open court production (8.5 ppg., 3.9 rpg.). The Pacers snag him at 18 and hope he continues to develop into a versatile two-way weapon.

21. Atlanta Hawks: Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (24)

Original Pick: DeAndre BembryBefore the bubble, TLC probably wouldn’t have been selected in the redraft. However, after averaging 14.8 ppg. on 51-45-90 shooting in the eight seeding games, and continuing that momentum into the playoffs (16 ppg.), he’s a borderline top-20 pick in this draft. He’ll be an interesting piece for the Nets moving forward as he should be able to get rotation minutes for a Brooklyn team that fancies itself a title contender. The Hawks happily take the three-and-D upside at no. 21.

22. Chicago Bulls: Bryn Forbes (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Malachi RichardsonTalk about a Cinderella story for an NBA player. Bryn Forbes wasn’t even considered an NBA prospect after his two years at Cleveland State and two years at Michigan State in college where the 6-foot-3, 175-pound two guard averaged a pretty pedestrian 12.6 points on nice 45-44-82 shooting splits. Somehow, he beat the odds and has put together a good career thus far, averaging 11.5 ppg. on 44-41-86 shooting splits the past two seasons for the Spurs. If he’s getting minutes on the Spurs, he’ll definitely play for the Bulls.

23. Boston Celtics: Furkan Korkmaz (26)

Original Pick: Ante ZizicFurkan Korkmaz took some nice strides towards becoming a consistent contributor this past season as he averaged 9.8 ppg. and shot 40.2 percent from three. However, he still wasn’t ready to be a playoff contributor as he only appeared in 10 mpg. in the 76ers’ playoff series in the bubble. The Celtics draft Korkmaz at no. 23 and hope he brings some nice floor spacing for their stars.

24. Philadelphia 76ers: Marquese Chriss (8)

Original Pick: Timothe Luwawu-CabarrotMuch like Kris Dunn, Marquese Chriss will probably be remembered as a bust, but he shouldn’t be because he’s fought hard and turned into a legitimate rotation player. This past season for the Warriors, Chriss averaged 9.3 ppg. and 6.2 rpg. and played with more high-energy effort than we’d seen from him up to this point in his career. He’s a solid value here for the Sixers at 24.

25. LA Clippers: Juan Hernangomez (15)

Original Pick: Brice JohnsonLike Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez seemed to reinvigorate his career after being dealt to the T’Wolves at last year’s trade deadline, averaging 12.9 ppg. and 7.3 rpg. and shooting 42 percent from three. It appears that his lack of playing with Denver was more of a numbers thing rather than a performance issue. If he keeps playing the way he played in Minnesota, he’s a steal for the Clippers at 25.

26. Philadelphia 76ers: Thon Maker (10)

Original Pick: Furkan KorkmazThe immortal Thon Maker would have been a great fit for The Process Sixers. He possesses all of the requisite unicorn skills that teams desire in their big men – he’s 7-feet tall and can shoot and dribble well enough to be intriguing. Unfortunately, his game is still way too raw to make an impact in the NBA. Perhaps a team geared more towards developing boom/bust projects like the Sixers could have coerced a little more out of a younger Maker in this redraft reality as his production (4.7 ppg., 2.8 rpg. for his career) has yet to match his potential.

27. Toronto Raptors: Yogi Ferrell (Undrafted)

Original Pick: Pascal SiakamSomehow, in four years, Yogi Ferrell has gone from being an undrafted afterthought to being an above-average backup point guard in 2017-18 (10.2 ppg., 3.0 apg. with 43-37-80 shooting splits) and back to being an afterthought (5.3 ppg., 1.7 apg. the past two seasons). Perhaps his struggles the past two seasons are more of a product of being on the lowly Kings than anything else. The Raptors will take Ferrell at 27 and hope that he’ll retain that 2017-18 form.

28. Phoenix Suns: Denzel Valentine (14)

Original Pick: Skal LabissiereLike Yogi Ferrell before him, Denzel Valentine looked like he was on his way to being an above-average NBA player back in 2017-18 when he averaged 10.2 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 3.2 apg. with 38.6 percent shooting from three. However, an injury caused him to miss the entire 2018-19 season, and other injuries kept only allowed him to appear in 36 games this past season. This coming season will be a make-or-break year for Valentine, but the Suns will hope that his strong 2017-18 can be replicated.

29. San Antonio Spurs: Georges Niang (50)

Original Pick: Dejounte Murray Georges Niang finally started to get some consistent minutes for the Jazz last season and played fairly well, averaging 5.9 ppg. on 44-40-83 shooting in 14 minutes a game. He seems like a Spurs kind of player who would sit at the end of the rotation for a couple of years, then suddenly emerge as an above-average bench contributor for the next five or six years, so they’ll take him here at no. 29.

30. Golden State Warriors: Patrick McCaw (38)

Original Pick: Damian JonesWhile his career numbers are nothing to call home about (3.9 ppg. for his career), Patrick McCaw was able to play legitimate playoff rotation minutes during his rookie season…and that has to count for something in the redraft. The Warriors draft him eight spots ahead of where they landed him in 2016.

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