Once Jimmy Butler left for the Miami Heat and Al Horford agreed to a four-year deal, the Philadelphia 76ers core for the foreseeable future was set.

The moves made this offseason indicate the organization believes Ben Simmons will be a franchise player. Just as importantly, they believe he can be the primary ball-handler for a championship contending team.

It’s a gamble due to his unwillingness to shoot outside the paint. It’s not much of an issue during the regular season, but we’ve seen the team suffer in the playoffs because of it.

Despite those concerns, the Sixers are willing to commit to Simmons long-term. Perhaps they are hoping to see an improved jump shot entering next season.

The $170 Million Man

Just a day after retaining Tobias Harris for five years and agreeing to a sign-and-trade with the Heat, the Sixers made their plans clear regarding Simmons.

The Sixers offered Simmons a five-year max contract worth $170 million, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

With Butler gone, they’ve given the reigns to Simmons to run the offense in all situations. He will be the primary ball-handler in the regular season, in the playoffs and in the fourth quarter of important games.

The Sixers are showing faith in him to get better during the offseason. They did not sign anyone in free agency who is capable of what Butler provided last season. (They are lacking shot-creators and playmakers).

Now it’s on Simmons to enter next season with a better offensive game and a different attitude about shooting the ball.

He must be willing to shoot open threes when the defense sags off of him. He also needs to have a 12-to-18 foot shot he can use when he needs it.

Even small improvements will make a big impact on an offense that will rely on spacing and ball movement to score.

Respect the player

If you don’t watch the Sixers much, perhaps you only view Simmons as a liability because of his lack of a jump shot. Even people who watch the team regularly only see his ONE obvious weakness.

Simmons has played an important role in the team’s success over the past two seasons. The team has won at least 51 games the past two years and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals twice.

Last season, he averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists, while adding tremendous defense.

Despite not shooting the ball outside the paint, Simmons can still score driving to the basket and cutting to the basket when off the ball.

He’s almost impossible to stop in transition and makes player’s around him better with his willingness to share the ball and find the open shooter.

Even without a jump shot, he’s an all-star player. We shouldn’t forget what he does well.

Like it or not, Ben Simmons will be the Sixers long-term point guard. Now, we can just hope he brings more all-around offensive game next season.

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