Thu. Dec 8th, 2022
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The Nets questioning Ben Simmons' 'passion for the game' isn't really fair, but it's understandable

The Brooklyn Nets just cannot avoid drama when it comes to their stars.

Last year, it was James Harden and Kyrie Irving. During the summer, it was Kevin Durant. This year it’s Kyrie Irving again and, now, it’s Ben Simmons.

But it’s not really about anything Simmons did — it’s actually about what he hasn’t been doing. And that is, well, actually playing basketball.

Simmons has only played in 10 of Brooklyn’s 15 games so far this season. And, when he has played, he just hasn’t been that effective. He’s only averaging 5.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists along with nearly 4 fouls per game. That just isn’t good enough.

And, apparently, his Nets teammates have grown frustrated with that. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that there’s been a growing “frustration” within the organization among players and coaches about Simmons’ lack of availability and his performances so far this year.

They went as far as questioning his “passion for the game,” according to Charania.

“According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, the frustration surrounding Simmons had been building in recent weeks within the organization. The coaching staff and players have been concerned about his availability and level of play, with some questioning his passion for the game, those sources said. But even when he did play, Simmons’ struggles in his first nine games this season were part of the Nets frustration as well.”

He’s in a precarious situation. He spent last year dealing with mental health issues after requesting a trade. Now, he’s finally back to playing again, but his body is failing him between his ailing knee and back. Not only have they kept him off the court, but they’ve also slowed him down when he’s been out there.

It’s not really fair to question Simmons’ “passion” for the game here. He’s legitimately injured and team officials see that. He did have back surgery. He does have a bad knee. Those are not fabricated things.

At the same time, it’s understandable why some might question him. His past with the 76ers informs everyone’s present-day perception of him. Based on that, it’s easy to see how someone could question Simmons.

The Nets’ maligned point forward explained he was well aware of this in Charania’s piece, saying that there’s “only so much I can really do” to change his teammate’s perception of him. He’s right — the only thing that can change that is playing well and winning.

Simmons returned to the Nets on Tuesday night in a 32-point loss to the Kings where Sacramento dropped 153 points on Brooklyn. Despite the loss, it also happened to be his best so far this season. He scored a season-high 11 points in about 20 minutes along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

But, more importantly, he looked spry. And confident.

I really like what I saw from Ben Simmons last night

— Brooklyn Netcast (@BrooklynNetcast) November 16, 2022

More of that and everything will be alright in Brooklyn. Well, as far as Simmons is concerned, anyway. It’s hard to say what else might come up.

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