The Brooklyn Nets were without their leading scorer, Kevin Durant (29.7 PPG), for their Thursday night matchup with the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center; logic dictated that Ben Simmons, who was traded to the Nets from the Philadelphia 76ers this past offseason, would have to fill the gap and pick up some of the scoring slack in Durant’s absence. Instead, the exact opposite happened, as Simmons was held to a scoreless game as the Nets lost 109-98.
While Simmons did finish with a respectable 13 assists, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, he went 0-3 from the field and didn’t attempt any three pointers, the latter of which is a more than glaring deficiency for a player with such prestige attached to his name. The zero point performance was not lost on the commentators for NBA on TNT, who roasted Ben Simmons for his zero point game against the Celtics.
“When you’re touted as a great player, you have to do it all. Yes, he had the assists and rebounds, but you have the ability to score,” Shaquille O’Neal said on TNT”s “Inside the NBA” postgame show. “We need you to be aggressive.”
“He’s not even looking at the basket. Not even looking at the basket,” Shaq continued. “Kevin’s not there. I need 12, 14, 16 points, I need you to be aggressive and score. You get the ball, high percentage shot, fast break, go for the layup, get fouled. I need you to at least act like you want to score. He’s not even looking at the basket right now.”
"He's the second-best player on the team. He can't NOT score."
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 13, 2023
Fellow analyst/commentator Charles Barkley also roasted Ben Simmons for his zero point game against the Celtics.
“His numbers should go up without Kevin Durant,” Barkley said. “He’s the second-best player on the team, he can’t not score. That’s hard to do, Ernie.”
As of this writing, Simmons is averaging 7.5 points per game, which is about half of his career average of 15.1 PPG. While his passing and perimeter defense have both been on point, as well as his rebounding numbers, Simmons’ number of free throws attempted, free throws made and free throw percentage have also taken a huge dive — he’s shooting only 41.3% from the stripe, which is far lower than his career average of 59.1%. He’s also attempting only 1.5 free throws per game (compared to his career average of 4.6) and as a result, only making 0.6 free throws a game (compared to his 2.7 FTM career average), which is not only a huge drop in numbers but reinforces the notion that he is “afraid to shoot the ball,” or even drive to the basket and drive a foul with increasing frequency each season.
Whether that’s due to mental block, physical injury or simply complacency with his playstyle is something seemingly only Ben Simmons knows the answer to. Whatever the case, Simmons’ lack of scoring may prove to be a problem for the second place Nets as their leading scorer and best player, Kevin Durant, will remain out of action for another month.
Do you think the fact that NBA on TNT roasted Ben Simmons for his zero point game against the Celtics was warranted? Let us know in the comments.