Lack of shooting progress means Cavs shouldn’t trade for Ben Simmons

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons warms up before a game. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons warms up before a game. (Photo by Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /
2 of 3
Ben Simmons, Cleveland Cavaliers
Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons handles the ball. (Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cavs shouldn’t trade for a non-shooter in Simmons

Yes, Simmons is again a three-time All-Star player. He was also second in voting for the 2020-2021 Defensive Player of the Year, is two-time All-Defense, was the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year and was All-NBA Third Team in the 2019-20 campaign.

Point being, the dude is a really good player and can legitimately guard all five positions on the floor, and has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game in four seasons played.

To reiterate though, he has not progressed as a shooter, nor shown really any viability outside of the paint to this point. For a player that I don’t foresee switching to more of a big man role and has been a 1, that’s a problem.

Now, whether or not Simmons should commit full-time to changing his primary shooting hand, of which he reportedly might, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, and given how he shoots so often with that right hand on the interior/on push shots/short hooks, is another thing.

But no matter how you slice it, Simmons’ lack of shooting progression, and his lack of confidence in big spots, including at the free throw line, is still a glaring issue. He’s an outstanding finisher, as evidenced by his career 71.6 percent hit rate in the restricted area, and Simmons has at least shown some touch with both hands with push shots and some hooks, and even semi-sky hooks with both hands.

The problem is, Simmons has a lifetime free throw shooting hit rate of just 59.7 percent, and hit a less than stellar 61.3 percent from there in 2020-21. That, and him even rarely taking mid-range shots, and having taken just 34 total three-point shots in four seasons, of which he’s hit just five (a 14.7 percent clip), makes me question if he can ever be truly a viable shooter where it’s actually impactful.

And honestly, while I’m not discounting his playmaking feel, nor his driving ability, particularly in transition, the lack of shooting progression through four seasons to this point makes me question even with a top notch Cavs shooting/player development staff if Simmons can ever be a jump shooting threat. That’s not even factoring in the complete lack of three-point shooting.

Now I’m not necessarily questioning Simmons’ work ethic; I’m sure he’s put in his share of work. There’s just not been encouraging signs for him in the jump shooting realm, though, so why should I believe that if the Cavaliers were to potentially trade for Simmons, that things would change?

I know the Cavs have reportedly aided Collin Sexton and Larry Nance Jr., for instance, in that way, but we’ve seen the progression from both of them, and Sexton, who is a maniacal worker and truly basketball obsessed, even among pros, is Cleveland’s best scorer and one of its best shooters.

Sexton led Cleveland with 24.3 points per outing last season, and even with so many injury issues for the Cavaliers and shooting inconsistencies around him, he had a pretty robust 57.3 true shooting percentage. Through three seasons, he’s also hit 38.5 percent from three overall.

Additionally, from the Garland standpoint, while it’d appear that Sexton, with him set to be extension eligible could be more so possibly dealt in this potential scenario, Garland is a player that’s on an upward trajectory too, and his shooting/range and playmaking/handle help others around him as well.

The gyst is, with the Cavaliers’ shooting inconsistencies last season/the year prior, whether or not Kevin Love was available, I’d rather them not potentially give up either of their best young players in Garland or Sexton, who are their consistent shooters really, for a player that can’t shoot. Keep in mind, Cleveland last season was last in the league in three-point shooting percentage. And if a salary matching minor piece would perhaps be thrown in, it wouldn’t likely be a Sixers shooter.

Not to mention, it would seem that the Sixers, considering I’d still think a number of teams might be interested in Simmons, would obviously be fully wanting Cleveland’s #3 pick in return along with either Sexton or Garland and with Love for salary matching. Love when healthy is still a gifted shooter, defensive rebounder and quality passer too, as an aside.