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#pounditThursday, June 13, 2024

Ben Simmons takes swipe at Giannis Antetokounmpo in interview

Ben Simmons with a shirt on

Jan 30, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) talks to fans before a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo is catching a stray this week from another big name in the Eastern Conference.

In an interview this week with Nick Friedell of ESPN, Brooklyn Nets forward Ben Simmons spoke on his infamous reputation for being unable to shoot jumpers. While responding to that particular criticism of his game, Simmons got in a swipe at the Milwaukee star Antetokounmpo.

“[Fans are] going to say that regardless,” said Simmons. “Even if I hit a shot, what are they going to say? ‘I still can’t.’ F—, I can’t make everybody happy, you know? … That’s like saying can Giannis shoot? Can he?

Friedell replied that Antetokounmpo’s shot has gotten better over the years, which Simmons acknowledged before moving on from the Antetokounmpo subject. You can read their full interview here.

Antetokounmpo is still an objectively below-average three-point shooter (at 28.8 percent for his career and 29.3 percent last season). But the problem with Simmons’ comparison is that Antetokounmpo is not afraid to shoot. Antetokounmpo has attempted 4.0 three-pointers per game over the last three seasons for the Bucks, which keeps defenses honest (similar to how other inefficient three-point shooters such as Marcus Smart and Jimmy Butler are still threats from deep with their willingness to let it fly). Thus, the Bucks were able to build an NBA title squad around Antetokounmpo, and Antetokounmpo himself still manages to flirt with 30 points a game despite his shaky conversion rate from distance.

Meanwhile, Simmons flat-out refuses to shoot the ball outside of the paint, having only attempted 36 threes in his entire NBA career (ten of which have been heaves, per Basketball Reference). That has prevented Simmons from ever scoring even 17 points per game in a single season. It also shrinks the floor offensively for his whole team, resulting in Simmons having yet to make it out of the second round to this point.

In recent weeks, Simmons did hint at a willingness to start shooting the ball more often this season. But talk is cheap until Simmons backs it up with action, like Antetokounmpo has already been doing for many years now.

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