Nets Urged to ‘Move on’ From Starter This Offseason

Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks

Getty Kevin Durant #7 and Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets.

All-Star forward Ben Simmons was acquired by the Brooklyn Nets last February in a trade that sent former NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. But Simmons has not added much to the Nets since making his debut in October, and his sporadic availability has also left a lot to be desired. ESPN NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins says it is time for the Nets front office to “move on” from Simmons.

“Yep, it’s officially time for the Nets to move on from Ben Simmons,” Perkins tweeted on March 3.

“And [to be honest] he’s walking a fine line right now because I don’t many organizations that are willing to be patient with him! Especially with the type of lettuce he’s making. Real Talk!”

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Ben Simmons Named Among ‘Most Disappointing Stars’

To be blunt, Simmons has not lived up to the expectations of a max contract player. This season he is averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game which is well below his career average of 14.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. But even beyond his stats, Simmons has been absent from an effort standpoint as well.

Simmons was never expected to be a volume scorer, but to this point, he is not even taking consistent shots. Simmons has attempted just 235 field goals this season. For reference, Nets guard Cam Thomas, who averages roughly 10 minutes less per game than Simmons, has taken 378 shots. It is one of the reasons Dan Favale of Bleacher Report says Simmons is among the league’s “most disappointing stars” this season.

“The fall of Ben Simmons is not something to castigate in jest. It is genuinely, unequivocally depressing. This is a three-time All-Star, in his age-26 season, not yet three years removed from a deserving All-NBA selection. You don’t rack up those accolades by accident. Simmons was a star—imperfect, sure, but a star all the same,” Favale writes.

“Simmons has once again battled injuries, including a left knee issue that has sidelined him since the All-Star break. But his play when available has been far from inspiring. Any semblance of offensive aggression is gone. During what would be his final season suiting up for the Sixers, Simmons averaged 11.3 drives and 11.2 field-goal attempts per 36 minutes. That volume has plunged to has plunged to 4.8 and 7.2, respectively.”

Favale: Things ‘Getting Worse’ for Ben Simmons

Once Harden expressed his displeasure with the direction of the Nets last January, it became apparent that he likely wouldn’t sign an extension with the franchise and would join another team in free agency. Instead of losing Harden for nothing, the Nets traded him to the 76ers, and Ben Simmons was the consolation prize to pair next to an All-Star core of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and adding a missing defensive element to the mix.

But with Durant and Irving now gone from the franchise, the vision for the Nets has completely changed, and the need for a player with Simmons’ skillset has decreased dramatically. As a result, the three-time All-Star has seen his minutes dwindle progressively. Not only are things not improving for the one-time Defensive Player of the Year finalist, but Favale says they are actually “getting worse” for Simmons.

“Joining forces with two higher-usage stars does not explain away this nosedive, which features a staggering implosion of free-throw attempts. Simmons did not ratchet it up much when Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant was missing, and their exits did nothing to gas up the thrust with which he plays,” Favale adds.

“If anything, things are getting worse. Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn moved Simmons to the bench after the trade deadline and has been pretty candid about the challenges he poses as an offensive non-factor. His minutes reflect as much. Many were already betting against Simmons’ stardom having a second act. But his credentials warranted some iota of hope. They don’t anymore.”

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