The Brooklyn Nets have struggled out the gate, dropping three of their first four games to start the year after a tumultuous offseason.
Brooklyn is attempting to re-invent their version of the “Big Three” with point guard Ben Simmons, who missed all of last season refusing to play for the Philadelphia 76ers and dealing with a back injury after being traded to the Nets.
Simmons’ integration has not been smooth, with the three-time All-Star fouling out twice in the first four games and averaging just 5.3 points per game.
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Simmons has been hesitant to shoot, averaging just 5.0 field goal attempts per game, fueling the fire around the career-long conversation regarding his offensive limitations.
On Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, teammate Kyrie Irving could be heard imploring Simmons to shoot during a 110-99 loss.
Following the game, Irving backed his teammate, saying that Simmons needs time to get comfortable after missing basketball for over a year.
“You guys keep coming in here and asking me, ‘What about Ben? What about Ben?’ He hasn’t played in two years,” Irving told reporters after the game. “Give him a f—— chance.
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“Stay on his s—. I wish I could say other words, because I’m from Jersey, but we stay on him.… We’re just here to give him positive affirmations while he’s out there and just let him hoop.”
On Wednesday, Simmons scored four points on 2-of-7 shooting from the floor, grabbing five rebounds, and adding nine assists in the loss to Milwaukee.
Irving has been asked about Simmons often this season, and has been showing support for his teammate and being critical when necessary.
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“He just has to get reps and minutes,” Irving said following Brooklyn’s first game of the season when asked about Simmons’ performance. “I think it’s as simple as that. We told him in the locker room he is a valuable piece for us, and we need him out there. And fouling out is not an option. Playing aggressive is something we want him to do, but we also want to play smart.”
Brooklyn plays the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night.