The Ben Simmons haters have found Exhibit A in their quest to motivate him to get into the gym this summer. His name is Lonzo Ball, the former second overall pick who was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019.
Ball entered the league with a dismal jumper and an inflated ego, yet he has worked hard to improve his all-around game. The 23-year-old point guard shot 31.5% from three-point range and 43.7% from the free-throw line during his first two years in Los Angeles. He has seen those numbers steadily improve in New Orleans, including career-highs from deep (37.8%) and at the charity stripe (78.1%) last season.
Now a viral video showing Ball knocking down jumpers with ease has hit the internet (via Overtime) and has everyone pointing the finger at Simmons. Why can’t the Philadelphia 76ers’ enigmatic point guard do the same? Simmons hasn’t even tried to develop a jumper in five NBA seasons, going 5-for-34 from deep (14.7%) while shooting 59.7% from the line.
“We lost, it sucks. I am who I am. It is what it is,” Simmons said after the playoffs. “You know, it’s not easy to win, and it shows. The Nets got finished by the Bucks. It’s not easy to win. And I’ll work. The first thing I’m going to do is clear my mind and get my mental right.”
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Ball, Simmons Mentioned in Trade Talks
The Sixers had rumored interest in Ball dating back to last year’s trade deadline. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski mentioned Ball as a secondary option for them if Kyle Lowry talks broke down. They opted for George Hill over both players. But Ball remains an intriguing name to watch heading into this offseason as a legitimate sign-and-trade candidate. He’s a restricted free agent after inking a four-year, $33.4 million in 2017.
Would the Sixers make a move for Ball? Better question, would Philly give up Simmons to get him? It would depend on the compensation in return, but pairing Ball with Eric Bledsoe and a 2022 first-round pick in exchange for Simmons might be tempting to the Sixers. Of course, Ball will have his share of suitors if the Pelicans decide to trade him. The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and New York Knicks are three Eastern Conference rivals to monitor.
Putting the Work In, Seeing the Results
Ball has been asked several times about the process behind improving his crooked shot. He credited Pelicans assistant coach Fred Vinson for encouraging him to get in the gym every single day and work on it. It’s been a long, hard road to tow but the results are finally paying off. Simmons could learn a lot from Ball’s commitment.
“It was a lot of work and I’m still working on it today,” Ball told former Sixers JJ Redick in 2020 (via LonzoWire). “Fred [Vinson] got me basically from the first day I came into the gym. It’s funny how he changed my shot. He did it day by day. He made me shoot on the left the first day and he slowly moved it over. He’s like ‘Keep your hand up, bend your knees more.’ I mean, it’s still a work in progress.”
The Pelicans star has turned into a willing and excellent three-point shooter, too. Ball drilled eight treys in a single game on April 4 while knocking down 172 total triples in the 2020-21 campaign. Simmons might want to pull up the highlights — and make a phone call to Coach Herb Magee. It can’t hurt.