Nets' Steve Nash Wants Ben Simmons to Play with More 'Joy' amid Slow Start to Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 26, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 21: Head coach Steve Nash talks with Ben Simmons #10 of the Brooklyn Nets as referee Dannica Mosher #89 looks on during the first half against the Toronto Raptors at Barclays Center on October 21, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Ben Simmons' first season playing for the Brooklyn Nets has gotten off to a rocky start. And his head coach, Steve Nash, thinks he just needs to reinsert some "joy" into his game.

"For me, it's trying to take the risk off the table," he told reporters Wednesday. "I'm not expecting him to be 100 percent in the short term, but I want him to try to find that [joy]."

There was always going to be an adjustment period for Simmons after missing out on the entire 2021-22 season and transitioning to new teammates and a new scheme in Brooklyn. A bit of rust was to be expected.

But Simmons has been rougher than anticipated, fouling out of two of the team's first three games while attempting just 4.3 shots per game. The result has been a meager 5.7 points per contest, though he has added 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game.

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Ja Morant baited Ben Simmons into fouling out 🧠 <a href="https://t.co/QZTCci9Z8M">pic.twitter.com/QZTCci9Z8M</a>

Offensive aggression was an issue for Simmons in Philadelphia, where he was a fantastic playmaker and elite defender but often didn't consistently impact games with his own scoring. That, at least partially, was a byproduct of his unwillingness to shoot from the perimeter.

But Simmons would also go long stretches without attacking the basket, a bit of a head-scratcher given his size and elite athleticism. Some of those concerns have been apparent to start this season, too.

The power forward has acknowledged that he hasn't been great thus far in Brooklyn.

"There's gonna be times where it's really ugly, like the other night for me," Simmons told reporters Wednesday. "I've had a couple of games I was playing like s--t."

And in his defense, adjusting to a new roster—especially one with Nic Claxton, a non-spacing center, in the starting lineup—will take some time.

Rohan Nadkarni @RohanNadkarni

The worst lineup in the NBA so far this season, minimum 35 minutes played:<br><br>Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, Royce O’Neale<br><br>OFF: 95.9<br>DEF: 126.3<br>NET: -30.4 (!!!!)

Ben Detrick @bdetrick

Running three 7-footers out there doesn’t have enough quickness defensively and rewards opponents for attacking the glass with impunity because there isn’t a threat of high-powers transition offense

The Nets are a team loaded with talent, but after a 1-2 start, there are obvious concerns. Given all of the drama of the offseason, with the uncertain futures of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, any struggles are going to be magnified and dissected.

That looming context makes Simmons' awkward start to his Nets tenure all the more fascinating to monitor.