Ben Simmons returns to form, Reactions, Response, Commentary, Stats, Return to Philadelphia, Latest, Brooklyn Nets, Highlights, Videos

Ben Simmons returns to form, Reactions, Response, Commentary, Stats, Return to Philadelphia, Latest, Brooklyn Nets, Highlights, Videos

Is Ben Simmons back?

The Aussie broke out of his early season slump with his best game yet for the Brooklyn Nets in their win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday (all times AEDT).

Starting at center in place of Nic Claxton (personal reasons), Simmons finished with a season-high 22 points to go with eight rebounds and five assists in a +19 game in 34 minutes.

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Tuesday, Nov. 22

Tuesday 22 November

It marked the most points Simmons has scored in a regular season game since March 23, 2021.

He has now strung together two strong performances after rebounding against Portland on Friday with 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists while also making 3-of-4 free throws from the line.

And his recent resurgence has pundits in the US excited.

Simmons jokes about returning to Philly | 01:24

“What we get a chance to see was him going downhill. It was huge, he didn’t have to think,” former NBA player Steve Smith said on NBA GameTime.

“What I like about Ben Simmons is that he understands how to play and has a good feel for the game.

“But if your confidence is rattled — I don’t care how big you are — I think that’s what happened for him … he just got a chance to play basketball.

“When he’s playing and he’s in a groove and he doesn’t feel like the spotlight is on him, he doesn’t care if he gets fouled and goes to the free throw line or shoots a jump shot.

“He’s got the last three or four games, he’s looked a lot better.”

Until his latest resurgence in form, Simmons has looked a shadow of his former self when he returned to the court after sitting out all of last season following a clash with the Philadelphia 76ers before being sidelined with a back injury.

A knee problem has also hampered the 6-foot-10 player this season, in addition to foul trouble as the Nets stumbled out of the gates, leading to the firing of Steve Nash.

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New Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn has since moved Simmons to the bench to play as a backup five, and the team as a whole has turned things around, winning six of its last few games to improve to 8-9 overall.

For Fox Sports US’ Chris Broussard, the former No. 1 pick is starting to show signs on both ends of the floor that he can return to his former best.

Simmons’ Nets & Curry’s Warriors Win Big | 01:19

“Ben Simmons looks like he could be Philly Ben,” Broussard said on First Things First.

“(Against Portland) he was a big player, pushed the ball in transition and played good defense — he did a really good job on Damian Lillard.

“Part of his problem with the mistakes is that he has to bring down big guys because they have no girth in Brooklyn.

“He was aggressive … that’s one reason why Ben didn’t play well. He might have some ups and downs in the next few weeks.

“But I think he can get back to being the Philadelphia Ben Simmons.”

NBA analyst Skip Bayless, meanwhile, believes Simmons stepping up to the free throw line late against Portland — an area of ​​his game that has failed him in the past — showed promise.

“I couldn’t stop watching this fight because I couldn’t stop watching Ben Simmons … what was most impressive to me was what he did when they hack-a-Ben,” Bayless said on Undisputed.

“The four free throws he shot came pretty late in the game, so he gets played by Jaque Vaughn down the stretch. They all looked pretty good to me, and they all looked like he wasn’t afraid at the moment, the way he’s looked before.”

Simmons first flashed last week against Sacramento, finishing with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench in just 20 minutes while improving on every performance since.

The trend is clearly moving in the right direction, but on the season he’s still averaging career lows across the board (7.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game).

It’s not the production the Nets had hoped for as the centerpiece returning in the trade for James Harden, while Simmons is also Brooklyn’s third-highest paid player at $35 million this season.

But if he can continue to play at his current level — and earn a permanent promotion back to the starting lineup — it will go a long way in pushing the Nets to a higher level.

“When they traded James Harden and got Ben Simmons back, the hope was that Ben Simmons would be the old Ben Simmons before the Atlanta series (vs. Philadelphia in 2021),” Locked on Nets’ Doug Norrie said.

“Ben Simmons who was an All-NBA guy and a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

“Honestly, to start the season, we didn’t see it … but these last three games have started to show the version of Simmons they thought they were trading for.

“If you start extrapolating the rest of the season about what things could be for this team, it’s this version of Simmons that gets you excited.

“Simmons is the key to all of this. If this is going to be the version we get now, then the Nets have a ceiling they can go to. It’s another level the Nets can go to, if this is what his game is going to be.”

However, there is one crucial test ahead of Simmons – a game against the Sixers on Wednesday that is sure to have a little extra emotion.

Simmons himself admitted before the Philadelphia showdown, “I know what’s coming,” having already received a hostile response from his old fan base when he returned there for the first time since the trade while on the Nets’ sideline.

Another strong performance from the Aussie would do wonders for his confidence.

“They’re waiting for this man, and they’re going to heckle him and spew a level of vitriol unlike anything he’s seen in his career,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on First Take.

“But I will say this, I’m very happy with what I’ve seen from Ben Simmons the last two games. If Ben Simmons shows up and has a decent game in Philadelphia, I think that’s going to be the real turning point.

“If he gets through that by playing reasonably well, I think he’s going to be on a much better path for him.

“KD and Kyrie are going to be ready to help Ben Simmons, but if Ben Simmons shows up and does his thing, I think that’s going to go a long way with his progression going forward.”

It will come against an undermanned Sixers side missing both Harden and Joel Embiid due to injury, with the latter’s absence to make it a much less spicier matchup given his tension with Simmons.

Heck, with Simmons now playing more center, he’d probably even be matched up on Embiid at times.

Either way, it still stands as a crucial game for Simmons that he undoubtedly would have watched for some time.

“He’s been back in Philadelphia as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, but he sat on the bench in that game and they messed with him. It’s going to be a lot different when you play,” ESPN’s Frank Iosola said on the YES Network.

“But I think playing the best game he’s played since the playoffs two seasons ago — not only is Ben Simmons going in with a better mental frame of mind — but his game is close to where it was a couple of years ago with Philadelphia.”

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