Brooklyn Nets point guard Ben Simmons is in the early stages of reclaiming his career and getting it back on track permanently. The last couple of years have been nothing less than tumultuous and filled with drama. Most wondered (sometimes aloud) if Simmons even wanted to play basketball anymore and questioned whether his heart was in it. It’s still early in the 2023-24 campaign, but through the first week and a half, Simmons looks like a guy having fun, and loving the game.
The average fan (or casual as they call it) will see Ben’s stat line in the box score and focus on what he didn’t do in terms of scoring. On Wednesday night, Simmons scored just four points but was one of the leading forces in Brooklyn’s win over Miami on the road, 109-105. His 11 rebounds, five assists, and one huge block in the fourth quarter were monumental in the victory.
One of the most significant changes in Ben compared to the previous two years is he’s smiling again. He actually looks happy to be part of a team. Just before the regular season began, Simmons found out how much the fans care about him (well, one for sure) when he met a young guy with a tattoo of Simmons’ face on his chest. Despite that questionable decision, Simmons looked shocked and flattered at the same time, so he handed the kid a shirt.
Simmons received so much flack over how his tenure in Philadelphia ended that it must feel great to see fans still cheering. He’d all but been counted out after sitting out in Philly, then being traded to the Nets and barely playing in the beginning. Some were saying Simmons should hang it up. That sounds crazy since he’s only 27 years old, but he’d fallen so far that it was hard to imagine him climbing back up.
In four games this year, Simmons is averaging 7.3 points, 7.5 assists, and 10.3 rebounds per game. That doesn’t sound phenomenal to most, but Ben is similar to Draymond Green because you can’t pay attention to what he scored. Forget about box scores in general with these types of players.
You have to watch them play and see how they make plays and create scenarios that set teammates up for success. The level of passion and emotion from Simmons and Green aren’t identical, but the impact they can have on a game without scoring a ton is quite similar. The main difference is one was drafted to a team investing in “the process,” while the other went to a franchise with Stephen Curry that was ready to win championships.
It’s still too early to proclaim that Simmons is “back” to his old self, but he’s definitely on the right track through four games. He’ll likely never be a player who scores 20 points a night, but when he’s focused, Simmons can certainly control a game with everything else he brings to the court.
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