Ben Simmons’ slow start to the season continued on Thursday night against the Bucks. Despite going just 2-for-7 from the field and scoring four points in the Nets’ loss, Kyrie Irving is still coming to the defense of his teammate.
Irving’s postgame comments defending Simmons were that much more interesting given what actually happened on the court on Wednesday night.
During the third quarter, Irving drove through the lane and passed the ball to an open Simmons standing in the paint. Simmons didn’t even look at the rim before passing it off to Kevin Durant outside the three-point line.
Courtside microphones clearly picked up audio from Irving as he shouted “Shoot it, Ben!”
While it’s easy to look at the situation in a negative light and assume Irving is upset with Simmons and his refusal to shoot the basketball, that isn’t the case, according to Irving.
“I just think like, if we’re going to come in and be honest as a team, I’m not trying to just be critical over what Ben’s done right or done wrong every single night,” Irving said.
“He’s a basketball player, he’s a professional, he has the skills to be a great professional, he’s done it in the past. And he hasn’t played in two years. So you guys keep coming in here asking me, ‘What about Ben?’ ‘What about Ben?’ and it’s just he hasn’t played in two years. Give him a fu-king chance.”
Irving taking a patient approach when it comes to Simmons finding his game again makes sense.
Simmons didn’t play basketball for nearly a year and a half citing both mental health concerns and injuries.
The Nets are just four games into the season and have more than enough time to get Simmons going.
Whether or not Simmons gets back to the same form we saw from him early on in his career is still a major question that only time can answer.