Former Sixers scout offers words on Ben Simmons’ offensive struggles

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As the Philadelphia 76ers head into the offseason, they have to decide what to do with All-Star point guard Ben Simmons. The team’s 24-year old All-Star came up small in the postseason as he completely struggled on the offensive end and he shot only 34.2% from the line throughout the playoffs.

That type of performance has caused him to be involved in a lot of trade rumors and suggestions as some believe it might be time for the Sixers to break up the Simmons and Joel Embiid star duo.

To help Sixers Wire evaluate Simmons and his future, former Sixers scout Michael VandeGarde sat down to discuss some options. VandeGarde worked in the NBA for 20 years and spent 18 of them with the Sixers, and is now working as a part-owner and advisor for Coach Tube helping to develop younger talent.

We conducted a quick Q&A with VandeGarde about Coach Tube as well as Simmons’ future.

Sixers Wire: With Coach Tube, just explain to everybody out there that doesn’t really know what it’s all about.

VandeGarde: Coach Tube is a platform for anybody to get videos and the ability to learn any sport, not just basketball. We have videos from NBA people, we have videos from college coaches, NFL coaches, and it runs the gamut from basketball, football, wrestling, badminton, and it’s just a way for people to learn the sports that they love from all over the world and it brings, I think, something special in the COVID era but it’s been around for many years now and it just gets bigger and bigger every year and some of the biggest names in the business are on the platform. I think it’s something that everybody should check out if they have time.

VandeGarde is currently busy with a host of projects including consulting ventures in the NBA as well as CoachTube.com, a site that offers coaching courses in sports. The digital platform enables athletes and coaches to receive sports coaching courses from the likes of former NBA and NFL head coaches and players.

Last spring, CoachTube conducted the world’s largest sports clinic virtually shortly after COVID-19 shut down the global sports world.

SW: Ben obviously had a tough playoff run outside of a couple of different games. When it comes to the free-throw shooting, obviously, he struggled, if you’re the Sixers, do you try to continue to work with him through that? Or do you maybe begin looking in other directions and maybe begin looking in other directions to try to find a better fit next to Joel?

VandeGarde: That’s an opinion that, obviously, the front office is gonna make. I’ve been in the NBA 20 years, 18 of them with the 76ers, you can’t pass up the future of Ben Simmons unless you’re getting something unbelievably special back. I know there’s rumors of Damian Lillard, there’s rumors of Bradley Beal, and you’re making a Ben Simmons trade for that? Man, I’d be excited as could be for the Sixers. but if you’re just trading him for some pieces that can shoot, or you’re just wanting to get off of Ben Simmons, I think that’s a huge mistake.

Ben Simmons is elite at everything he does, except for shooting. We all know that it’s about the one thing you can dramatically get better at and it showed its ugly face in the playoffs this year more than any other year. Ben has to look himself in the mirror and that’s just got to get better. He’s got to get better and even if he doesn’t get better, he’s an elite, elite player. Elite rebounder, elite passer, great in transition, an elite defender, and you just don’t find guys like that at his size that can do what he does.

Unless you’re trading for another All-Star, I don’t know how you can trade Ben Simmons away for just a couple pieces and a couple draft picks. I think Ben Simmons and Embiid, although it’s not a perfect fit because Embiid needs shooters, but if you put shooters around them, then the Sixers can be amazing.

I think people get frustrated at the bad luck the Sixers have had. Joel Embiid was hurt in the Toronto Raptors series and a crazy four bounces keeps them from having a shot at a championship. Embiid gets hurt again this year, Danny Green gets hurt again this year, and Ben Simmons didn’t play well and they were the better team than the Hawks, but they didn’t find a way to win that series, but if they win that series, they could be in the NBA championships again. They could have made the NBA championships two out of the last three years. I think people sometimes look at bad breaks and unlucky things and get frustrated and want to make changes. Especially as fans, but you look at the Chicago Bulls, like Michael Jordan back in the day, he had to fight and claw his way through the Detroit Pistons for many years before they broke through. I think everybody wants that immediate gratification. Joel Embiid’s still young, Ben Simmons is still young, Tobias Harris is in that timeline in his prime.

SW: Simmons’ high school coach recently said that coach Doc Rivers needs to give some kind of shot quota for him and be like ‘Hey, if you don’t reach this jump shot quote, then we won’t play you’ type of thing. Could that maybe push him in the right direction and begin bringing out that jump shot with him?

VandeGarde: It could, but Brett Brown tried to do that as well and it didn’t go over so well. Ben’s a young guy, he’s a proud guy, obviously, he’s a little embarrassed and flustered that he hasn’t been able to make free throws and hasn’t become a better jump shooter, but he’s never had to do that in his career until he showed up in the NBA. From day one in the NBA, he was told he was a superstar and he is a superstar, and he hasn’t put in the time the effort, the focus to do that and I think with all the media attention in the last year, especially in this year’s playoffs pushing him towards struggling at the line, he’s got to look himself in the mirror and he’s got to do it and shot quotas and this that and the other, that’s fine. I think only Doc and Ben and the team and the group inside the locker room knows what’s going to be effective for Ben. He needs to get in the gym, he needs to work at it, he needs to clear his head because he’s not a 36% free-throw shooter. He might not be a 75% free-throw shooter, but he was in the 50s and he was worked his way towards low 60s and a lot of it could be mental. You get to the line and you got 10,000 fans yelling at you and it doesn’t go your way. It’s a game of runs. We see that in the NBA all the time. A team catches fire, and they feel great about themselves, and Ben obviously wasn’t feeling good at the line so whatever they’re gonna work through between Doc and the team and Ben, they just got to get after it and get better.

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