Ben Simmons says he’s ready to make an immediate impact when he returns to the hardwood this season with the Brooklyn Nets. The 3x NBA All-Star and 2018 Rookie of the Year recently sat for JJ Redick’s podcast The Old Man and The Three to share how enthused he is to play in the Big Apple.
“It’s going to be sick, I can’t wait. I’m so excited,” Simmons said. “I’ve got a new number, a new jersey. I’m just looking forward to it. I think we have a special team, and if we get it all together, we’re going to be champions. That’s the end goal. “But yeah, I’m excited. It’s New York City. I’m playing with some unbelievable players, and a great coaching staff.”
Simmons spent the first six years of his NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers. And the 6-10 point guard’s defensive skills earned him a couple of nods for the league’s All-Defensive First Team. But his reluctance to take shots outside the paint, coupled with poor free throw shooting ability, made Simmons a huge liability on the offensive side of the ball.
He drew criticism from some of the biggest names in the league, including Shaquille O’Neal. Simmons says he reached out to Shaq during the backlash, who then leaked his DMs.
“When I was dealing with everything going on, I actually messaged him, and he put it out, and I was like, alright,” Simmons said. “I DM’d him. I was like, ‘Why are you saying this if you don’t even know the story?’ ’Cause he always wants to say, ‘Yo, we’re LSU brothers. You’re my brother.’ All this, that, if you’re my LSU brother, you would have reached out by now, and it’s been months since I been dealing with this. You ain’t reached out once and say, ‘Hey, you okay? What’s going on?’”
The 26-year-old also talked about his shooting woes.
From his first day in the NBA through March of last year, only 20 of his 403 field goal attempts (4.96%) were taken outside of the lane, according to FiveThirtyEight. And only 55 of the shots in his last two seasons came weren’t in the paint, per NBA.com.
“[It’s] also one of my weaknesses, so what am I going to get mad at people for saying I’m not good at something?” Simmons said about his absence of distance shooting. “Like OK yeah cool. I’m going to practice and get better. It is what it is. And that’s just part of the game. If I was a guy that sucked and people didn’t care, people wouldn’t be mentioning my name.”
Listen to Simmons talk more about his time in Philly, lingering feelings about Doc Rivers, his current mental health, and more by clicking on the video below.