Even though Brooklyn Nets big man Ben Simmons made his NBA debut in 2017, the league at large knew of him far before he touched down in the city of brotherly love. Unfortunately for the Aussie bruiser, this happened for negative reasons rather than positive ones.
In the weeks leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft, the media questioned Simmons’ character and attitude.
But despite all that noise, the Sixers still drafted him first overall. He became the third Melbourne-born top overall pick in 11 years, behind Andrew Bogut in 2005, and current teammate Kyrie Irving in 2011.
Simmons’ frequently stuffed box scores during his early days with the Sixers, but he never developed into what many would call a “clutch player.” For that reason among others, the questioning of Simmons’ vigor never fully ceased.
This past February, Simmons along with Andre Drummond, Seth Curry, and two first-round picks put an end to that story in Philadelphia at least, coming over to the Nets via the James Harden trade. Simmons made his regular-season debut with Brooklyn in mid-October, tallying a whopping four points, five rebounds, and five assists before fouling out.
With that, the noise which tailed him everywhere in Philly was beginning to be heard in Brooklyn.
On the season so far, Simmons finds himself averaging 5.8 points, 5.6 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game. The hype behind Simmons has dwarfed the on-court product — making it easy to see why reports are now surfacing about Brooklyn’s frustrations with him.
The Brooklyn Nets are growing frustrated with Ben Simmons
As reported by The Athletic, the Brooklyn Nets are already getting impatient with Simmons. The team reportedly held a players-only meeting, where Simmons and his passion to play became a focal point.
In a discussion that Simmons had with The Athletic on Tuesday, he stated the following:
"“I get the skepticism, but I think the one thing with me is that I’m a competitor,” said Simmons. “I want to win and play. So, I’m gonna do what I can to get out there.”"
Simmons’ quote is good and all, but it doesn’t change how awful he’s been on the court this season. With Kyrie Irving out until who knows when, the Nets desperately need their whole team to step up more, Simmons included.
Back during the 2018-19 season, Simmons earned an All-Star bid for the first time. He did the same the year after, along with an NBA All-Defensive team selection. The Nets need that guy back, not this one we’re watching thus far.
Ahead of Tuesday’s game, Jacque Vaughn was asked about his expectations for Simmons:
"“It’s the consistency piece of it,” said Vaughn. “Trying to stabilize this group has been the challenge overall. Not only the things off the court, but us having people in some games, out of some games, not playing back-to-backs, so we try to not use any excuses. That’s who we are. I’m going to coach this group. Whoever’s available that, that’s who we’re going to play.”"
Both in what we’ve seen on the floor from Brooklyn’s surrounding cast and in what we’re hearing from Vaughn, the time is now for Simmons to step up the Nets.
Brooklyn remains a high, even championship-ceiling team with their current roster. But the key word there is “ceiling.” The Nets need to reach that potential if they want to crawl their way out of mediocrity. Doing so begins with Simmons.