Brian Babineau/Getty Images
Brown told reporters Tuesday that Simmons and Fultz must improve their “shooting and spacing” when playing together, per Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times.
The concerns about Simmons’ shooting are nothing new. He shot 1-of-3 from beyond the arc in his only season at LSU and was 0-of-11 on three-pointers with Philadelphia in 2017-18.
Simmons is such a good rebounder, defender and playmaker that he can become an All-Star even without long-range shooting. But his inability to stretch the floor has the potential to hold back the Sixers on offense and could limit his value in a seven-game playoff series.
The increased role of Fultz compounds the problem Simmons’ limited offensive game presents.
Fultz worked with Drew Hanlen in the offseason to improve his shot, but the results are mixed so far. The second-year guard is shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 30.8 percent from deep.
In a since-deleted tweet, Hanlen indicated Fultz may not be at 100 percent (h/t 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia):
Here is the Drew Hanlen tweet that @975Mornings just referenced in their last segment https://t.co/omf4giXDkG
Brown discussed that tweet Tuesday, per Dave Uram of KYW Newsradio:
Dave Uram @MrUram
“We wished he didn’t.” #Sixers head coach Brett Brown would’ve preferred Drew Hanlen didn’t Tweet what he did about Markelle the other day. Even so, the head coach and Fultz insist there’s no significant injury. https://t.co/YOYARUJRWv
Of the two, Fultz is the far bigger issue for Philadelphia.
Bleacher Report’s Yaron Weitzman discussed the topic at length, arguing Fultz is not only struggling as a long-range shooter but also failing to be aggressive inside of the three-point arc. It’s as if the Sixers are playing with four players offensively sometimes, such is Fultz’s negative impact on that end of the floor.
As a team, the Sixers are tied for 11th in made three-pointers (11.2 per game) but are 22nd in three-point percentage (.339). Philadelphia can acquire a proven sharpshooter or two and improve its spacing, but that won’t fully address the questions raised by Fultz’s lack of confidence and consistency with his jumper.
When the Sixers traded up to select Fultz with the first overall pick of the 2017 draft, it looked like one of the final steps in the franchise’s long-term process to build a title contender.
A little over a year later, one can reasonably start to wonder whether Fultz is a fit with Simmons and Joel Embiid.