Ben Simmons' inability to take and make jump shots — and more recently to make point-blank layups — has put a hard cap on his effectiveness. With things broken in Philadelphia, there is hope he can have a rebirth in greener pastures. The ridiculous and somewhat frequent social media posts showing him back in the lab swishing a few triples at L.A. Fitness or executing crab dribbles against a working stiff are meant to convey a simple message: that Simmons is putting in the work.
But that's largely an assumption at this point. Until this process manifests in the form of improved and more confident play, we can't be sure there's an earnest effort to fix all that ails Simmons.
Appearing on the DA Show on Wednesday, Shaquille O'Neal spoke about judging the results.
"I have no idea what he's doing but when I look at the finished product, we can make the assumption that you're not putting in the work," O'Neal said.
O'Neal pointed out what's clear and also frustrating. Simmons has the ability to dominate games in the same way Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates games once he harnesses the confidence to miss shots. Not being afraid to fail is a skill in professional sports and it's impossible to truly succeed without it.
"I saw a look in Ben's eyes that I haven't seen before," Shaq continued. "You can ask for a trade all you want, but you still have to work on your game. You're still obligated to put on a great show."
It may be a bit unfair to expect meaningful results at a time when there are no meaningful games. But O'Neal is correct in contextualizing the importance of these selective video clips against little resistance. They won't mean anything unless they emerge as the precursor to a whole new player in actual NBA contests.
We'll know soon enough of Simmons put in the work. For now, it's totally fair to have some healthy cynicism.