Ben Simmons is supremely athletic, fantastic in transition and will be one of the top ten passers in the NBA right away. The one potentially quite serious problem with his game is his shooting.
When I look at the mechanics of his jumper, I notice a few glaring problems. The timing is a little off, which in turn throws the whole thing out of whack. His elbow is too high, creating an awkward pushing motion rather than a fluid flick. Shooting from this position can cause a shot to be flat rather than having the optimal arc trajectory. The high elbow also causes his head to push back a little too much. The poor timing creates a situation where he often releases the ball after reaching the apex of his jump. Shooting on the way down results in a shot that is almost completely taken with power generated by the arm. He rarely gets full extension of his shooting arm during his follow-through which creates more inconsistency. All of these things can be fixed easily.
Blake Griffin is a good comparison to Simmons as a jump shooter. When Griffin entered the league, he was known more as an explosive athlete who played above the rim. In this video, you can see just how similar his shot mechanics are to Simmons. They both have the same late, slow release. Griffin’s elbow is too high and he often failed to get his shooting arm locked out.
Griffin’s improvements should serve as a model for what Simmons could be as a shooter. In his rookie season, Griffin shot 33.5 percent on long twos. During the 14-15 season, Griffin improved to 40.4 percent. His free throw percentage also improved during that period, going from 52.1 percent his sophomore year all the way up to 72.7 percent last season.
Simmons, like Griffin, loves to operate from the elbows. If he can get himself up to Griffin’s level as a shooter from that area, his passing ability becomes amplified as he becomes more of a floor spacer, thus making himself a more complete offensive player.
In reviewing film of Simmons ahead of the draft, I noticed his plus ball handling, his incredible ability to start a fast break off a defensive rebound and his preternatural instinct for finding teammates with some of the most creative passes I’ve ever seen. What I didn’t see was Simmons finishing a single play in the paint with his left hand. It may seem insane and I’m sure I just missed it, but I can not recall a single instance. I definitely noticed his nice touch and footwork on his little righty jump hook. The numerous times I watched him contort his body unnaturally in order to avoid finishing with his left stands out clearly in my mind.
Simmons is an otherworldly athlete with incredible fluidity and coordination so if he wants to shoot with his left hand, he probably can.
Most people associated eye dominance with handedness, but according to a 1999 study by the Department of Psychology at University College London, these two traits are fairly independent. When looking at the results of this study, it is overwhelmingly evident that mixed handedness and eye dominance are extremely common. Certainly, this was a small sample size, but I believe some information can be gleaned from this.
I believe that Ben Simmons is right eye dominant. When he pulls his hands up during his shooting motion, he actually raises the ball across his body. When the ball leaves his hands, it seems to leave from a position that would be more well suited to a right handed shooter.
In addition to the needed corrections to his shot mechanics, he would be much more consistent if he became a right handed jump shooter.