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Former NBA champion believes criticism against Ben Simmons is premature: “We cannot judge Ben until 50 games into the season!”

Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors
Ben Simmons is starting to play better for the Brooklyn Nets.

Ben Simmons was one of the favorite punchlines in the NBA earlier in the season. He received a ton of flak for looking like he’d rather be somewhere else than play basketball for the Brooklyn Nets.

Richard Jefferson, on “The Ryen Russillo Podcast,” had this to say about the criticism and lambasting Simmons has been subjected to:

“If you’ve taken a year off, and you haven’t seen a 100 mph fastball, that thing is looking like a 200 mph fastball. The first few games it was like nothing out there, his head was spinning.
"Over the last five games, you’ve seen progression. He’d score 11, then he scored 15, I’m not saying his scoring is gonna keep ascending, but he’s getting it. … We cannot judge Ben until 50 games into the season!
“Russell Westbrook last year with the Lakers, and it was just not a good fit. ‘Okay, we get it. 50 games in, this s**t ain’t changing.’ But for us to do that eight, 10, 15, 20 games into the season, when a guy didn’t play the year before and had surgery in April, that’s just not enough time.
New Russillo @Spotify PodA new NBA parity theory…Confident Ben Simmons is a win in a lossNBA fight storiesW/ @Rjeff24 Also-He tells us stories about the 2004 USA team (best part of Pod)Tales from the couchCFB Top 12Life adviceopen.spotify.com/episode/1s9edH…

Against the Sacramento Kings on November 15, Ben Simmons finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Before that game, he didn’t reach double-digit scoring in his previous nine matches. He averaged 5.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.1 steals during that stretch.

What stood out besides the career-low numbers was his total lack of confidence. Despite repeatedly saying that he was just playing his game, everyone knew he hardly looked at the rim. A video clip of Kyrie Irving desperately urging him to shoot a point-blank shot went viral.

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Starting that breakout game against the Kings, Ben Simmons is slowly finding his footing. Over his last six games, the former Philadelphia 76ers star is now averaging 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals. He is hitting 82% of his field goals.

It’s not a coincidence that the Brooklyn Nets are showing some signs of life, despite a humiliating loss to the shorthanded 76ers in Philly. Simmons has been a key part of the Nets’ resurgence.


Ben Simmons might still reach All-Star level form

Ben Simmons' averages over the last six games are very similar to his All-Star years.
Ben Simmons' averages over the last six games are very similar to his All-Star years.

The season is long and six games do not make an entire season. But the positive vibe surrounding Ben Simmons of late is giving Richard Jefferson hope that things will turn out for the better.

“He might not be Ben Simmons from Philly two years ago. But if he can go one more notch, from where he is right now, one more notch up, he’s a problem. … He’s an All-Star caliber player if he can go one more notch up from where he is right now.”
Ben Simmons last 6 games:16 PPG7 RPG6 APG82 FG%All 6 games in double digits. https://t.co/BYMOSOFdbc

In Simmons’ three All-Star seasons while he was still playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 16 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals.

Those numbers are not too far off from what Simmons has been putting up over the last six games. The key for “Big Ben” is to sustain his performance. Even if he doesn’t make the All-Star team, it would be a big win for himself and the Brooklyn Nets.

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Edited by Michael Macasero
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