We are 15 games into the Brooklyn Nets season, and to say their 6-9 start would be disappointing is be an understatement. They did win four out of their last five before dropping two straight games to the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings. Much of the drama has surrounded the availability of their all-star guard Kyrie Irving. However, many eyes are starting to look toward All-Star forward Ben Simmons and wondering if he can get back to being the player he used to be.
Simmons seemed to be a potential bright spot in the explosion of a big three in Brooklyn that saw James Harden switch positions with him in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. Let’s be honest; Ben Simmons needed the change in scenery. However, the promise hasn’t come to fruition yet.
Simmons has been in and out of the lineup this season with knee problems. When he has played, Simmons still looks out of sorts. He’s averaging career-lows of 5.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists during the ten games he’s played in. Much of the hesitancy the world saw during that faithful game seven against the Atlanta Hawks two years ago, where Simmons passed up a dunk, is still present. The defense he’s known for has been absent. Some teammates are starting to wonder if Simmons still wants to play at all.
From The Athletic:
“According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, the frustration surrounding Simmons had been building in recent weeks within the organization. The coaching staff and players have been concerned about his availability and level of play, with some questioning his passion for the game, those sources said. But even when he did play, Simmons’ struggles in his first nine games this season were part of the Nets frustration as well.”
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All-Star forward Kevin Durant spoke to Andscape about Simmons and stressed patience, but also stated it’s up to him to find that fire within him.
“Just keep encouraging. More than anything, that comes from within. Internally figure that out. And we can encourage and be there for him as much as we can, but it’s all about the individual, and I think he wants it. So, you’ve got to be patient, but also know that there’s some sense of urgency. So, it’s a balance you got to have with him. But most of the time, most of it’s going to come internally.
The good news is there is still a lot of basketball season to be played. The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are the current favorites to win the East. Maybe there is some time for Brooklyn to get it together.
For Ben Simmons, there’s one game in particular that I’m keeping an eye on – a Nov. 22nd match up against the Sixers in Philadelphia on TNT. If Simmons gets over this mental hurdle, maybe the game will start returning to him.