Brooklyn Nets point guard/forward Ben Simmons, who was roasted by NBA on TNT commentators Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkely for his zero point performance against the Celtics in early January has done it again. What has he done exactly? If you guessed led the Brooklyn Nets to a hard fought victory, stepping up to fill a void left by the Nets’ best player Kevin Durant, then you guessed wrong. If you guessed that Ben Simmons scored zero points (yet again) in the Nets’ loss to the Pistons on Thursday, then congratulations — your skills in observing one of the NBA’s most inscrutable mysteries, namely why Ben Simmons seems to have such an egregious aversion to scoring points, are on point. Bonus points and our deepest sympathies if you’re actually a Nets fan and have to endure what must be a rollercoaster of emotions (including what we assume must be overwhelming frustration) in watching Simmons play this season.
Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn seemed to share in that frustration in the post-game press conference following the Nets’ surprising 130-122 loss to the Pistons, the latter of whom currently have the second worst record in the NBA.
“The expectations, what we always talk about, was to win this basketball game. The people who suited up, the people who played, the people who stepped on the floor had an opportunity to impact the basketball game for their teammates,” Vaughn said. That’s the objective every single time we step on the floor. We were expecting to win tonight, that’s the goal.
“Whether it’s a back-to-back — I remember four in five nights, three in four, four in six, doesn’t matter. you do what’s necessary, whether that’s taking care of your body, the mental part of it, the work that goes on between days off, days off, between games, game day, to get yourself in a position to win. That’s why we do this thing.”
Vaughn seemed to roll his eyes when mentioning that Ben Simmons was out for “knee soreness,” an injury which Simmons seemed to suffer following a play where he guarded Jaden Ivy on the perimeter. The Pistons rookie accidentally swiped Simmons in the eye during a drive to the basket. Simmons checked out of the game following the eye poke, returned to the locker room and did not return. The Nets noted “knee soreness” rather than “eye injury” as the cause for Simmons not returning.
“I think the goal in my eyes is for everyone to play every game and to do what’s necessary to be prepared to play every game,” Vaughn added. “There’s a certain amount of minutes that each individual played in Philly, some equally tonight. So the preparation that it takes going into that, you just have to give credit to the guys who were prepared to play, ready to play, did what was necessary to get their bodies ready.”
Vaughn benched Simmons in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 137-133 loss to Simmon’s former team, the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Ironically enough, Simmons finished that game with 12 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds on 71.4% from the field but was benched for “lack of aggression” on the offensive end, particularly in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, according to Vaughn.
“I think overall it’s the message I kind of talked about before the game. We’re going to get every guy, and that’s including Ben [Simmons] to value every possession,” Vaughn said on Wednesday following the loss. “To play hard every possession. And just because you play the first half, it doesn’t mean you’re going to play the second half.”
Are you surprised that Ben Simmons scored zero points in Nets’ loss to Pistons on Thursday? Do you think Simmons needs to show more aggression on the offensive end for the Nets, particularly in the absence of Kevin Durant? Let us know in the comments.