Ben Simmons is slowly starting to show more fire, more pep in his steps and more production in his last four games. He has now scored 11, 22, 15 and 11 points after failing to hit double-digits in his first nine games with the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite a significant uptick in performance, here’s what Simmons told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne in an interview:
"My mind is telling me, 'Go be you.’ But then my body's trying to catch up. So it feels like I'm just progressing each day, each game. Just building up.
"I'm still trying to get a rhythm, find my pace. It's easy to be like ... before the injury, [I] was one of the best defenders [in the league], and now, I've got to relearn a lot of things, rebuild. It takes time, but you move through it."
Ben Simmons averaged 5.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steal in his first nine games for the Nets. He shot 46.0% from the field and just 24.4% from the free-throw line. His weaknesses became more apparent as he almost avoided looking at the rim and looked nearly devoid of confidence.
Over the last four games, he has averaged 14.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.3 steals. He has been nearly flawless with his field goal attempts, hitting 78.3% of his shots. His free throws have improved as well, and he has hit nearly half of his attempts at 43.8%.
More importantly, he has seemingly embraced the daunting challenges that he has to face for the rest of the season. He passed with flying colors in his first game in Philadelphia since the 2021 playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks, on Tuesday.
Ben Simmons did what many thought was unimaginable just days before. He went into the stands to sign autographs and relate with fans before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Australian even broke out Michael Jordan’s famous shrug after hitting his first two points of the game - via free throws.
At one point, he dared to silence the boos and catcalls after following up his own missed point-blank shot. He looked more confident and free than he has ever been this season and in that traumatic series against the Hawks.
The Nets also benefitted from his display, putting up a good fight in their 115-106 loss to the 76ers.
Ben Simmons still has a long way to go before he regains All-Star form
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has publicly and consistently supported Ben Simmons since the team traded James Harden for him. The Nets know they’re likely not contending for the championship if they’re not getting the best version of Simmons.
"He's a focal part of our team," Marks said. "Supporting Ben and having a real partnership with Ben ... getting him playing at the level that he's capable of is critical to this team having success.
"That's on the court, off the court, everything. Physically, emotionally, everything. He has the ability to make a lot of people better."
Simmons has only played 13 games this season and he knows there are still plenty of tough obstacles further down the road:
"There's been moments where I've felt quick, fast, strong," the Australian said. "But it's like a roller coaster. It's up and down. And it's on me. I have to stay with it, be consistent and just push through."
“Staying with it” will be crucial as no one’s going to take pity on the Nets, not with all the drama they consistently surround themselves with.
Ben Simmons has shown signs that he’s up to the challenge. The NBA will be watching intently to see if he can sustain the positive vibe he’s recently been bringing.
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