NBA fans sure do love to slander Ben Simmons.
The 2017 No.1 overall pick just signed a five-year, $170 million extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, but instead of celebrating the accomplishment, the subject across basketball fandom has tended far too often to bend toward one particular question: "is he worth that much?"
Poking fun at Simmons' lack of a jump shot is the easy route to take, as it's the most obvious flaw in his game. He doesn't even bother to take 3-pointers because it's such a waste. But in the big picture, he's already emerged as a top young player in the league, having made the All-Star team last year. An All-Star should be making All-Star money.
There's been discussion about whether Simmons shouldn't be labeled as a point guard, but rather a power forward with handles, but in today's era of position-less basketball, it's all semantics. The fact of the matter is that he put up a 58.2 true shooting percentage last season, can get to the basket and finish as well as just about anyone, and has terrific court vision as a distributor. Combined with high-level defense, to say he hasn't earned his payday just misses the point.
Yes, Ben Simmons deserves the max. No, I don't think that's contingent on him adding a jumper. Figuring out what Ben Simmons will be over the next five years is an NBA riddle: https://t.co/hfcjQ4drTM— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) July 18, 2019
The Sixers can't afford to put Simmons anywhere besides the full-time ball-handling spot having re-signed Tobias Harris and drawn Al Horford away from the Boston Celtics. Philadelphia's oversized lineup needs time to develop the right rhythm, and making any hasty changes will blow up in the Sixers' faces. They need to show faith in Simmons and let him do his thing.
The East is even more wide open with Kawhi Leonard leaving the Raptors, and if Philly misses the Finals, it won't be due to Simmons' lack of a jumper, full stop. Philadelphia was a few bounces off the rim from a matchup against Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals, after all.
Simmons should definitely continue to work on developing some sort of 15-to-20-foot jumper in order to diversify his offensive repertoire, and he needs to figure out how to make open 3-pointers in the corner. But when you have a star in his early 20s with Simmons' talent and physical tools, you cannot risk him walking away when free agency comes around. Locking him in for five years made all the sense in the world.
If it gets to the point where Simmons is getting paid $38 million, which he will in 2024-25, and he still refuses to hone a sustainable jump shot, then maybe it's cause for concern. But as for right now, Simmons is definitely worth his extension. There's just no question about it.