Ben Simmons’ rough start hit a new low against the best player in the world and perhaps the favorite to win the 2023 NBA championship when the Brooklyn Nets faced the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. The Bucks ran away with a 110-99 victory that caused head coach Steve Nash to lose his mind while getting ejected and Simmons to face a new round of humiliating highlights after another forgettable performance.
Simmons’ slow start to the year should have been expected. He missed all of last season after demanding a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers following his meltdown in the 2021 playoffs. He finally got his wish at midseason when he was dealt for James Harden, but a back injury prevented his return right when it finally seemed like he would play. Simmons is in the Brooklyn lineup this season alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but the results have been ugly so far.
Simmons ended the game with four points, nine assists, five rebounds, and four fouls in 34 minutes. Through the Nets’ 1-3 start, Simmons now has 21 points and 18 fouls.
In the third quarter, YES Network mics caught Irving yelling “SHOOT IT, BEN” after he dropped a pass to him under the basket. Simmons didn’t even look at the rim before passing it out. Watch the video here:
Of course, Durant made the shot and Simmons got the assist, so maybe it was the right decision after all.
Simmons was one of the league’s best defensive players not long ago in Philadelphia, but he is no match for Giannis Antetokounmpo right now. Simmons and Giannis have had a low-key but long-simmering beef that includes the time Antetokounmpo called him “a f——— baby” after a bucket. Now we have a new moment: Giannis telling Simmons he’s too small after a late bucket in a big win.
The still photo is even better:
To be fair, no one in the world is stopping Giannis right now. No one should really expect that from Simmons.
Irving made it a point to defend Simmons in the post-game press conference. He mentioned Simmons’ long layoff without basketball, and said everyone needs to give him a chance to knock off the rust. That’s absolutely right.
Kyrie Irving on Ben Simmons: “You guys keep coming in here asking me like what about Ben? He hasn’t played in two years. Give him give him a fu-king chance. We stay on his sh1t. You just stay on him. But we’re here to give him positive affirmations.” #Nets
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) October 27, 2022
Simmons’ all-world defense should be an ideal fit next to Durant and Irving, but he hasn’t looked like the same player so far. He needs to learn how to impact the game on offense by threatening the defense with his scoring. Being more confident from the foul line — and therefore more willing to attack the basket — is a good place to start.
The Nets are lucky the Lakers’ exist, otherwise this team would have the worst vibes in the league to start the year (Philly is a close third). It’s perfectly fine if Simmons needs some time to knock off the rust. Brooklyn just needs him to round into form as soon as possible.