NBA: Ben Simmons, A Frustrating Return on a Struggling Team

The Brooklyn Nets’ NBA season is off to a rough start, and Ben Simmons may be a major factor behind this.

Nathan Han, Staff Writer

To put it simply, the Brooklyn Nets have had a chaotic start to their NBA season. It started in the off-season when Kevin Durant requested a trade (which never went through), and further escalated with the drama surrounding Kyrie Irving’s recent suspension (centered around his antisemitism). Followed by the firing of head coach Steve Nash, Brooklyn has become the talk of the NBA world for all the wrong reasons. Amidst all their problems, however, is a player that’s been one of the most disappointing in the league: Ben Simmons.

The No.1 pick of the 2016 draft came to Brooklyn following a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers during February of 2022, which centered around him and 2018 MVP James Harden. This deal also included sharpshooter Seth Curry and big man Andre Drummond, along with two first-round picks. At the time, the trade seemed to make perfect sense for both teams. The Sixers received a gifted scorer in James Harden, desperately needed to assist Joel Embiid on the offensive end. And in return, the Nets obtained two key role-players as well as an elite defender in Ben Simmons, who had also proven himself to be a talented playmaker.

On paper, this deal seemed to increase both teams’ chances of being a championship contender. Unfortunately for the Nets, however, this has not held true in practice. Despite Seth Curry playing great, Simmons has been noticeably poor. His lackluster performance has—according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick—led to multiple members of the organization being “concerned about his availability and level of play, with some questioning his passion and drive for the game.”

Questions about his drive for the game are not anything new. They’ve always been prevalent during his tenure in Philadelphia, where he’s repeatedly passed on open layups and has looked rather afraid of shooting the ball from deep. Additionally, the frequency of his injuries throughout his career have led many to question the legitimacy of those injuries.

However, what’s new is his performance in the ten games he’d played with the Nets as of this writing. In those game he’s averaged a career-low of 5.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.6 assists, which—compared to his stat lines in the years prior of 15.6 points, 8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists—look rather measly.

Even on the other end of the court, where he’s previously built the reputation of being one of the best defenders in the league for his position, he has been overwhelmingly lackluster. He is often not guarding the opposing team’s best perimeter player (an area that he’s shined in before) and generally hasn’t seemed to care about the game, which has led to him coming off the bench in his last four games.

The Nets have a multitude of issues to worry about, and the window to fix their problems is only shrinking. If Brooklyn wants any chance at contending this year, Ben Simmons needs to play like the elite athlete he once used to be.