ESPN Analyst Confronts Doc Rivers Over ‘Ben Simmons LeBron 2.0’

Getty Images Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers speaks with referee Mitchell Ervin #27

Throughout his four-year career, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons has attempted only 24 3-pointers.

Simmons’ shooting or lack thereof, is a facet of the game that Ben has always been ridiculed for. Some believe it’s the sole issue that’s holding the Sixers from becoming a championship contender.

So, when Sixers’ new head coach Doc Rivers was quoted as comparing his All-Star point guard to superstar and future Hall of Fame forward LeBron James, ESPN’s Stephen A Smith decided to confront the prolific head coach on national TV.

Stephen A Smith To Doc Rivers On His ‘Ben Simmons LeBron 2.0’ Take: ‘Why On Earth Would You Say That?’

“I saw you say something recently that I thought was blasphemous,” Smith told the veteran head coach before reading Rivers’ Simmons/LeBron 2.0 quote. “I think that Ben Simmons is elite. This dude is a jump shot away from being LeBron James 2.0 – that’s how gifted I think he is,” Smith said while reading Rivers’ quote aloud.

“But not only is he not perceived to be a shooter, he doesn’t even attempt to shoot and Doc Rivers was quoted as saying, “That’s not that important,” Smith explained. “First of all, was that quote accurate? Did you say that? And if so, why on Earth would you say that?” Smith asked.

“Because I really believe that,” Rivers replied. “It’s important in the long-run, let’s be honest. But what I want is for Ben Simmons to play free. I don’t want him to play thinking about shooting a jumpshot. I want him to play downhill, get in the lane and make plays. Get to the free-throw line – something that no one’s ever told him; get to the line as much as possible, 10 times a game, if you can get there.

“And then your shot will come. But don’t go into games, don’t drive to the arena thinking, ‘Man, I need to make a three tonight.’ No, you don’t, you need to play.”

Doc Rivers’ On Sixers’ Offense This Season: ‘If We’re Averaging 120 Points This Year, Do You Care Where They’re From?’

The narrative surrounding Simmons’ shooting has certainly become a distraction, at times, but until Philly makes a vast improvement without his outside touch, the topic of conversation isn’t going to die down on its own. Still, Rivers admitted that at the end of the day his point guard is going to need to find a way to add shooting to his game but as of right now, this season?

He says it isn’t important for his team.

“I asked him a simple question and I’ll ask you,” Rivers told Smith. “If we’re averaging 120 points this year, do you care where they’re from or do you care that we’re efficient and doing it? And that’s what I’m trying to tell Ben (Simmons). I think, naturally, those shots will come and he works on them every day. But I don’t want him walking in the game thinking about shooting a jumpshot.”

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