It’s Time To Buy Stock In Ben Simmons Again
— 25 November 2022

It’s Time To Buy Stock In Ben Simmons Again

— 25 November 2022

Buy low, sell high: Asking you to invest your attention in probably the most frustrating player alive will (understandably) raise a few eyebrows — but hear us out. With Ben Simmons recently announcing he still intends to play for the Boomers in the Paris 2024 Olympics, it’s worth examining some of the prevailing narratives around his game and deciding whether you should still care. If a Ben Simmons redemption arc is truly on the cards, Brooklyn might be the only place where it could happen.

After a pretty mediocre start to the season where he looked deferential and disengaged, Simmons has been playing a lot better. A recent game that garnered considerable attention was his return to Philadelphia where he played against his former team, with many expecting Simmons to be met with hostility from fans of the 76ers. He was certainly booed by the home crowd, but it wasn’t nearly as extreme as anyone – including Simmons – had anticipated.

RELATED: Ben Simmons Labelled “Weakest, Most Pathetic Athlete” In Sport History

Sixers fans have absolutely no reason to be mad at Ben Simmons anymore and they know it. Deciding to sit out last season was the best thing that could have possibly happened to the franchise, as it meant preserving his market value through back injuries, knee injuries, and mental health struggles, which allowed them to get a player like James Harden in return.

While “The Beard” hasn’t been at the MVP level he once was for the majority of the time since being traded, he’s still a markedly better player than Simmons and more compatible with the 76ers’ as a point guard. Ben Simmons, on the other hand, has been fairly disappointing with the Nets. This wasn’t Miami Heat LeBron James returning to Cleveland as the best player in the world on a team supported by Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Philadelphia was able to beat a full-strength Brooklyn team 115-106, without even having their own three best players on the court.

It's Time To Buy Stock In Ben Simmons Again - Redemption Arc
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Here’s why it gets better for the Nets. No, we aren’t about to tell you Simmons is developing a jump shot. In fact, we’re likely well past that at this point, especially considering the increasingly popular conspiracy theory that he’s been shooting the ball with the wrong hand this entire time. Although Ben Simmons getting a jumper might not even be necessary for his redemption arc.

Granted, it’s fun to rag on Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets, who have to pay him an annual average salary of US$35,48,672 (AU$52,528,622) until 2025, but are his struggles this season really that surprising? Recovering from back surgery isn’t exactly nothing, he didn’t play for an entire year, and now he’s on a completely different team… and one that’s about as dysfunctional as it gets.

Kevin Durant is only a couple of months removed from rescinding a trade request, Kyrie Irving is the subject of a new controversy every single week, and they only fired head coach Steve Nash less than a month ago. Maybe he deserves a bit of breathing room in that regard.

His shortcomings are very real and very well-known across the NBA. He’s nowhere near the player he could be and his reluctance to score is one of the most infuriating things to watch in the sport. Simmons is 6’10 and still possesses frankly unbelievable agility and court vision for his size. In Brooklyn, that might be enough.

The Brooklyn Nets have two of the best pull-up jump shooters in the NBA with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Yuta Watanabe, and Patty Mills are also some of the best shooters in basketball. 60% of the Nets’ field goal attempts this year are jump shots. They don’t actually need him to hit catch-and-shoot threes or shoot over defenders off the dribble. Spacing isn’t an issue here.

The Nets’ game is taking the top off the defence with jump shots. There is no congestion around the paint with seemingly endless driving lanes should Simmons decide to attack the basket. If a defender wants to give him space on the perimeter, he can just dribble handoff to any of the six guys we just listed and punish them for it.

His ability to make plays out of the short roll – finding openings and creating advantages for wide-open teammates – is more valuable to this team, as presently constructed, than if he was just another shooter. Simmons has a particular knack for getting the ball out in transition and finding open shooters but has also found some recent success in half-court sets after relocating to the dunker spot along the baseline. He doesn’t hurt the Nets offensively quite as much as he did with the 76ers.

While he might not be at the level of the Defensive Player of the Year candidate he was a few seasons ago, he’s still a very versatile defender with a natural feel for the momentum of a basketball game. He’ll guard Luka Doncic on one night and Giannis Antetokounmpo on another. You can’t really be mad at that. About a month ago, the Brooklyn Nets were dead last in defensive rating by a wide margin. Since the Kyrie suspension, while also coinciding with visible improvements in Ben Simmons, the Brooklyn Nets were fourth in defensive rating before the Philly game.

RELATED: Kyrie Irving Lost Over $100 Million By Refusing To Get Vaccinated

It's Time To Buy Stock In Ben Simmons Again - Redemption Arc
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists across four seasons with the 76ers, three of which earned him an NBA All-Star selection. Even if you have questions about his work ethic, his recent performances indicate that his current averages of 8.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in his first year with the Nets are the result of growing pains that’ll probably get better as the season progresses. There are three more years of this partnership with KD (Kyrie Irving is a free agent next season), so you can anticipate that the best of his Nets tenure is yet to come and that they will eventually figure it all out.

In short, maybe he’s more Draymond Green than he is LeBron James. You aren’t going to get a generational talent in every number one draft pick — that doesn’t mean they can’t play meaningful basketball on a contending team. Andrew Wiggins and Deandre Ayton aren’t the offensive engines of either the Golden State Warriors or Phoenix Suns. They have, however, both proven they can contribute in their respective roles on Finals-calibre teams.

As much as we’d love to see Ben Simmons draining threes, it isn’t the most important aspect of his possible redemption arc. This isn’t quite the “Ben has arrived” article we’d hoped to write by now, although there is some cautious optimism. If you spot a Brooklyn Nets “10” jersey at a discounted price, there are certainly worse things you could spend your money on.

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