Ben Simmons is an All-Star point guard. Jimmy Butler is a four-time All-Star as a forward.
But sometimes, change is good.
Simmons struggled in the first half of the Sixers’ win Thursday, but had a huge second half that helped lead the team to a win. He was just 2 of 6 before halftime, but went 7 of 13 after and finished with 21 points.
The difference? Simmons saw way more touches in the post.
If you’re looking for an area of Simmons’ game that’s improved drastically, it’s his post play. Last season, he shot just 30 percent and took just 70 shots in the post. In 2018-19, he’s hitting 51 percent — sixth in the league among players with at least 250 post ups — and has already taken 104 attempts. It’s also accounted for 47.2 percent of his points this season.
When push came to shove, Simmons knew where he could score. And the Heat didn’t have an answer, allowing Simmons to score eight straight points for the Sixers in the third.
“Rarely when the game is unfolding do you look out on the floor and don’t think, ‘Oh, he’s got a mismatch,’” Brett Brown said. “He’s 6-foot-10 and there’s a physicality to him that’s more potent and powerful than others may see on a stat sheet. He’s physical and he’s big. I thought what stood out was that he wanted the ball. He sensed we needed a bucket.”
Everyone knows Simmons’ biggest flaw. He’s a point guard that can’t shoot.
Just look at what the Celtics did to him last season in the playoffs — and what they’ve done to him this season. They sag way off him, daring him to shoot. They’re disciplined and get back on defense, hindering Simmons’ ability to utilize his strength in transition.