If you’ve watched the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs thus far, you’re watching history in the making. And it is not good history. Ben Simmons is currently on pace to have the second-worst free throw shooting percentage by a non-center in NBA Playoffs history. Simmons has made thirteen out of his thirty eight free throw attempts, which is just 34.2% from the charity stripe. Including the 76ers’ Game One loss against the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons has shot under 50% in every single game that he’s attempted a free throw in.
The Washington Wizards demonstrated to the league that “Hack-a-Simmons” is a viable option. The Wizards fouled Ben Simmons three times intentionally at the end of game four in the first round. Simmons proceeded to shoot three for six at the line and killed all of the Sixers’ momentum. The Wizards would go on to win the game — their only win of the series.
Against better teams, Ben Simmons is going to cost the Sixers — big time. It’s already been shown in Game One against the Hawks, when Simmons shot three for ten. Seven misses at the line in a game and the 76ers lost by four. The 76ers are still overwhelming favorites against the Hawks, but even still, this will absolutely kill them against the Brooklyn Nets or Milwaukee Bucks.
This is not to discredit Simmons’ ability on the basketball court. He has amazing court vision, dictates the tempo and is a candidate to win Defensive Player of the Year. However, there does come a point where a team needs a guard who can create their own shot, something Simmons has struggled to do. Simmons is an excellent dribble-driver, and uses his size well. Out of players with a minimum 200 attempts, Simmons isn’t even top fifty in shooting percentage, from six feet and in.
Simmons’ lack of free throw shooting, and penchant for being intentionally fouled, has drawn comparison to Shaquille O’Neal. Unfortunately this analogy won’t work for the 76ers. Unlike the Los Angeles Lakers from the early 2000s, the 76ers do not have a shot creating guard. The 76ers also do not have the guard depth to take Simmons out of games late.
The solution here is simple, trade Ben Simmons. The 76ers could receive a large haul for Simmons as he’s a 24-year-old point guard with All-NBA defending and playmaking. Simmons just hasn’t been a great fit for Philadelphia. If Simmons developed a reliable jump shot, they could be the best team in the league. But until then, Simmons is much more a con than a pro in the playoffs.