Ben Simmons is still struggling to adjust to playing again after missing all of last season. The Nets continue to implore him to be aggressive in looking for his own shot while supporting him through the tough moments, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
“Yes. Yeah. That’s a little rust, the confidence not only physically, but with the rhythm of the game, to go to the basket,” head coach Steve Nash said of Simmons attacking the rim. “You can see him trying at times, and that’s great. We want to keep pushing him to try to break through and force the issue, even if he makes mistakes, just so that we can see him be aggressive and start to find a rhythm for doing so. … It’s not easy for him. It’s been a long time, new group and a back surgery. Add it all up and we have to have some patience with him.”
After Simmons passed up what appeared to be an open layup during Wednesday’s loss to the Bucks, a clip went viral of Kyrie Irving telling him to shoot the ball. Irving told reporters after the game what transpired.
“When I passed it to him I felt like he had a layup at the rim,” Irving said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “And I looked him eye to eye and I was like, “Shoot it, Ben!” And of course, again, it’s just a clip. It’s a full game that we can look at and dissect, and that’s what I’ll do. This is a big-picture thing. We want Ben to be aggressive every single play, we want him to get an assist every single play, we want him to rebound, we want him to play against the best player, we want him to do all the things we know he’s capable of, but at this time he’s going to have to work himself into his own confidence and feel good about himself.
“I’m not going to say I’m being patient or humble about it, but the reality is that we’re just going to keep having to try this experiment every single night until we get the right recipe.”
Like Nash, Irving stressed patience as Simmons attempts to regain his old form, saying that he’s giving Simmons “positive affirmations,” according to Friedell. Through four games (29.5 MPG), Simmons is averaging 5.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 7.5 APG while shooting 45% from the field and 33% from the free throw line.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- Nash was ejected for the first time in his coaching career during the loss to the Bucks, which dropped the Nets to 1-3 on the season, notes Michael Blinn of The New York Post. “I was just standing up for our guys,” Nash told reporters after the game. “I thought Patty (Mills) took a forearm in the throat from Giannis (Antetokounmpo) right in front of the ref and I didn’t think that was fair. I don’t think I was overly demonstrative. I was upset that I got a tech.”
- Hornets head coach Steve Clifford, who was a coaching consultant with the Nets during their disappointing 2021/22 season, recently told reporters that Nash wasn’t to blame for the way things panned out, according to Zach Braziller of The New York Post. “This is where coaches take heat for things that are not their fault. The number one problem last year in Brooklyn was games missed. That’s it,” Clifford said. “I didn’t go to every game, but I watched every game.” As Braziller notes, Kevin Durant missed 27 games last season and Irving missed 53, while Simmons didn’t appear in a game with the Nets in ’21/22 after being acquired from the Sixers.
- Guard Seth Curry is still recovering from offseason ankle surgery but he’s nearing a return. He’s getting 4-on-4 work in with the Nets and practiced with the team’s G League affiliate in Long Island on Thursday (Twitter links via Lewis and Andscape’s Marc J. Spears). However, he won’t play in their road game at Dallas on Thursday night, nor will Joe Harris (ankle rehab) or Markieff Morris (personal reasons), tweets Friedell.