Boyle believes Simmons’ struggles are mental
Since the Philadelphia 76ers were abruptly eliminated from the playoffs in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks, there has been plenty of discussion around point guard Ben Simmons. The 24-year-old had been drafted by the organization with the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but hasn’t been able to lead his team to the success that many had been hoping for.
The 76ers had a fantastic regular season finishing atop the Eastern Conference, but like has been the case in recent years they failed to get the job done when it really mattered in the playoffs. There has been plenty of speculation and rumours that Philadelphia might be looking to trade Simmons during the offseason after he struggled from the line throughout the postseason. He hit just 25 of 73 free throws during the 2021 playoffs, an issue that is becoming more and more apparent.
Speaking to the Takeoff with John Clark podcast on Friday, Simmons’ old high school coach Kevin Boyle spoke about the superstar’s problems. Boyle coached Simmons at Monteverde Academy in Florida and knows the player quite well.
“I think it’s more a mental thing than physical thing,” Boyle said, via Bleacher Report. “I know there’s some things that have to be cleaned up there. I thought his shot was pretty good coming out of high school. He had a slight slant to the left, but very slight. And when he first got to Philly, I don’t know what really happened, but his form changed—really, technically not correct—I think maybe trying to straighten him out too much with his arm, ended up opening his arm up. It didn’t look good, and I think he lost confidence—the way it appeared, and also the result.”
Simmons’ inability to make crucial free throws in critical moments really hurt his team and the way the 76ers’ approach the game. 76ers’ head coach Doc Rivers had talked about his point guard’s issues with the media after almost every game and made it clear that he can’t keep playing the youngster if he isn’t making his shots.
While it remains to be seen whether Simmons will remain in Philadelphia with the 76ers and earn another chance to prove he can be a top star alongside Joel Embiid, his former coach has no doubts that Simmons is the real deal. Boyle is confident that his former student has what it takes to lead a team to an NBA title, even if it doesn’t seem like that right now.
“I’m very, very confident he’ll be a star player, and a 10-time All-Star, and a three-time first- or second-team All-Pro, and have a championship ring,” Boyle said. “I’m very confident in that. He’s just too talented.”
Simmons has vowed to work on his shooting throughout the offseason and will not be participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with Australia this summer as a result. If the 76ers do decide to trade him, they will have plenty of options with numerous teams said to already be interested in making a move.