Ben Simmons' 'real issues' exposed in brutal NBA comeback

Ben Simmons is pictured reacting to a referee call during a Brooklyn Nets game.
Ben Simmons has tallied 14 points and a whopping 17 fouls across his first three games of the NBA season. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons' much-hyped return to NBA action has yielded some uninspiring early returns as the Australian former All-Star gets back to grips with elite competition.

The Brooklyn Nets, regarded as championship contenders despite a turbulent off-season in which star player Kevin Durant demanded either a trade or the sacking of head coach Steve Nash, as well as general manager Sean Marks, have endured an unsteady start to their season.

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An opening night loss at home to the New Orleans Pelicans was steadied by a win over the Toronto Raptors, before the Memphis Grizzles ran them off the court in their third game.

Simmons has totalled 14 points and an eye-watering 17 fouls across the first three games, and while nobody expected much of his scoring, many had hoped his defence would be a game-changer for the Nets.

Instead, Simmons has often struggled to stay on the court due to foul trouble.

While Nash has attributed some of that to 'rust' as Simmons embarks on his first NBA campaign in over 18 months, some observers have deeper concerns.

Basketball analyst Doug Norrie said the Nets 'cannot win' if Simmons continues down the path he's on now - particularly if he can't stay out of foul trouble.

“Let’s just say it for what it is, it’s been bad across the board. The mental piece of it is not there with these fouls,” Norrie told the Locked on Nets podcast.

“If these are going to be the numbers, the Nets cannot win.

“These are real issues. The Nets have gotten absolutely murdered in his minutes.

"I’m pro Simmons – I want him to be good – I’m not trying to drag him. These are just the numbers, this is what’s happening here.”

Simmons put up seven points, eight assists and three rebounds against the Grizzlies, but also fouled out of the game and was responsible for five turnovers.

Meanwhile, fans also held reservations as to whether Simmons was capable of returning to his All-Star best.

Ben Simmons concerns emerge after frustrating start to Nets' NBA season

Moving screens have been a problem for Simmons to start the season, picking up many unneccesary fouls trying to get his teammates open on the offensive end.

Locked on Nets co-host Adam Armbrecht said Simmons' defensive potential was 'unquestionable', but he had to ensure he could be available for every minute of every game.

As such, cheap fouls on offence were a cardinal sin.

“Ben Simmons aggressiveness and the way he can impact a game defensively is unquestionable," Armbrecht said.

“What is questionable is his judgement in certain situations when he has five fouls ... now there’s multiple games where Ben Simmons is getting called on those moving screens fouls on the offensive end with consistency.

Ben Simmons attempts to drive past Memphis Grizzlies opponent Steven Adams.
Ben Simmons has struggled mightily in his first three NBA games of the season, but there is some hope simple mistakes can be cleaned up. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

“He needs to be making that adjustment, because now we’re talking about five instances over the last two games – and that’s really where you’re coming up against it having five fouls late – these little instances throughout the game and then an ugly one at the end that gets you fouled out.”

Simmons fouled out with just under four minutes left, the second match of the campaign he has failed to finish.

Memphis guard Ja Morant led all scorers at halftime with 24 points as the hosts trailed 69-64. He finished with 38 along with Desmond Bane who shot 14 of 21, including 8 of 11 from three-point range.

Memphis broke open a close game with a 17-2 run early in the third quarter, which they ended up winning 45-28.

With AAP

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