Not everything works out as planned and the Brooklyn Nets might be nearing that point with beleaguered star Ben Simmons.
“It’s going to be some work that we have to do,” said head coach Jacque Vaughn after the game of getting more out of Simmons via the team’s official YouTube channel. “You just take a look at what the lineups could potentially look like. You put a big next to Ben, then you got to figure out what the spacing is around him. Then if you put a playmaker next to him, then you got to figure out what Ben looks like without the basketball. Then if you go small with Ben, then you got to figure out can you rebound enough with him…You see the challenges that lie ahead”
Those challenges have seen Simmons’ minutes fall for the third straight game since he returned from knee soreness that cost him five games.
The Nets went 3-2 in that span and have gone 1-3 since his return.
He saw just over 12 minutes – his second-fewest of the season – coming off the bench for the third game in a row for the Nets’ 124-106 loss to the New York Knicks on February 13 finishing with two points, three rebounds, two assists, and one block with two turnovers.
Not All on Ben Simmons
“It’s a match-up a little bit,” Vaughn said noting Nic Claxton also played fewer minutes than usual. “The rebounding piece we’re always concerned about so didn’t want Ben to be the lone big out there. We tried him with another big. I didn’t like that rhythm of the game because we weren’t scoring enough at that time. So a lot of different problems thrown at you in the course of a game you try to figure them out.”
Still, this wouldn’t be the first time Vaughn has questioned Simmons’ effort in light of being asked to fill a different role than what he has been accustomed to.
He won’t have to do it alone, Vaughn says.
“What we want from each guy is to give everything, every ounce that they have every single game,” Vaughn said. “Trying to figure out what lineup fits around Ben, what position fits for Ben, how we can make him look good at every opportunity. I’m still trying to figure that out. That’s on me to figure that out. But I think, overall as a team, we’re going to try different lineups to figure this out.”
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers recently came to Simmons’ defense calling for patience. But expectations are high with over $78 million owed to Simmons over the next two seasons.
He is averaging 7.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists this season.
Ben Simmons’ Stance on Criticism
“It’s a little frustrating trying to find some rhythm and consistency,” Simmons said after his minutes fell for the second game in a row, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post adding, “that’s what it is at this point right now. Guys have been in and out due to injuries, trades, so there’s been a lot of different things that play factors into it.”
Vaughn has said he will continue to try putting Simmons in a variety of roles that suit him. But how long will Simmons, who has previously welcomed criticism when warranted, respond?
Even his acceptance had a limit.
“I ain’t really had no message from [Vaughn],” Simmons said via the team’s channel following their 137-133 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on January 25. “But I think it’s more just whatever team needs to win. so if we’re winning having a problem but if we’re losing, then I got an issue.”