Former 6er, Ben Simmons held his first press conference with the Brooklyn Nets. It was the first chance to get the 25 year old’s perspective about what went wrong in Philly. He burned half a season of games (54 to be precise), sacrificed millions of dollars, his image, credibility and a massive number of fan support for reasons that were unclear as they were last summer when he first demanded a trade, until Tuesday’s presser cleared the air. “It wasn’t about the fans or coaches or comments made by anybody, it was just a personal thing for me,” Simmons said. “That was earlier than that series, or even that season, that I was dealing with… and that organization knew that.”
Ben Simmons' response when asked why things got so bad in Philadelphia: pic.twitter.com/FIl15XVmlP — NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 15, 2022
WHAT DOES HE BRING TO THE HARDWOOD? The new Big Three – Durant, Irving and Simmons is arguably stronger and more cohesive than the Big Three experiment they just abandoned, the one that featured Harden, lots of scoring and, well, very little defense. A three-time All-Star, Simmons is in his mid 20’s, and is under contract through 2024-25, so his deal matches up with Durant’s, and potentially Irving’s, if he re-signs. He is a unique player, for better or worse. The 2017-18 rookie of the year has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 boards and 7.7 assists in his career, is a walking triple-double and a lock-down, game-wrecking defender. But he has shot just 14.7 percent from deep, 59.7 percent from the line and appeared afraid to shoot from either in the playoffs. The Nets have to hope with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, Joe Harris and Patty Mills, they will be suited to mask Simmons’ offensive failings and accentuate his positives. While Simmons has been working out on his own to tune up and shake off match rustiness, it is not the same as NBA game speed, which brings about the feeling he would need a couple weeks to get ready.
The start of a new journey 😤 pic.twitter.com/4cSKZnOXdk — Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 15, 2022
IS HE GAME READY JUST YET? The timetable for Simmons to return to the court and make his Nets debut is still to be determined. Coach Steve Nash said before Monday’s game that it was largely in the hands of the performance team. But Simmons is looking forward to being part of a fast-paced, offensive dynamo that he hopes to be a big part of. This begs the question if Simmons was, as a matter of fact, dealing with a legitimate mental health issue as his representatives asserted last fall to explain his refusal to play for the Sixers? Does it all stem from the criticism he heard from his coach, teammates and Sixers fans? Is he simply coping with a bruised ego? Or is it something bigger than that? Is it beyond basketball? We don’t know, and it is quite frankly none of this writer’s business. Be that as it may, one can be respectful of his privacy, mental health and still have legitimate questions about his gamesmanship, makeup and reliability. It’s fair, as well, to voice at least some degree of skepticism about the mental-health alibi, given the circumstances and the timing of that explanation, which was not raised until he faced millions in lost wages. Rounding off, a passionate Nets fan can justifiably wonder if everything Simmons has exhibited in the past months — the questions about his jump shot, the refusal to shoot in fourth quarters of playoff games, the unprecedented decision to sit out the season, compromising his team’s title hopes—is a serious cause for concern.
Ben Simmons sitting with his teammates on the bench. pic.twitter.com/NbKotvOge8 — Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) February 15, 2022