Ben Simmons showed flashes of his younger 2020 self in the Brooklyn Nets’ 109-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
Simmons ended his outing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in 32 minutes of action. Of course, it was the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year’s first double-double with Brooklyn.
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Ben Simmons had his first double-double performance since March 17, 2021 in the Nets’ win over Portland.
◽️ 15 PTS
◽️ 12 REB
◽️ 7 AST
◽️ 6/6 FG pic.twitter.com/GNU4soJL1u
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 18, 2022
“People make it seem like I had a sprained ankle or something,” the Nets star said after the win. “I came back from back surgery, that’s not easy. I’m getting there.
I’m coming, I’m getting there, man. It’s taking a little bit of time, but I got my own back. My teammates got my back, my coaches.”
Through 11 games this season, Simmons is averaging 6.6 points, 6.7 boards, 5.7 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. Not to mention, he’s shooting 53.4% from the field.
Ben Simmons needs more time to unlock his full potential with the Nets this season
Late in the fourth quarter with 3:28 left, the Trail Blazers began intentionally fouling Simmons. Over his five-year career, the three-time All-Star has shot 59% from the foul line. However, he shot 75% in the final minutes to protect the Nets’ 103-99 lead.
“I love those moments. I’m not going to shy away,” the Nets guard said on getting fouled. “That was their plan, but obviously it didn’t work. But I’m just building. I love those moments.”
Vaughn thinks Simmons cleared another hurdle tonight by knocking down 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch when the Blazers tried the Hack-a-Ben strategy. He believes Simmons’ confidence will only grow from here.
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) November 18, 2022
“Regardless of what people say, we’re here to win,” added the Nets guard. “We’re here to win a championship. It’s going to take everybody to do that.
Everybody’s got to stay focused, locked in and stay the course, not get caught up in all the other things going on.”
Not only did Simmons record his first double-double with the Nets, but it was his first double-double since June 14, 2021, when the Philadelphia 76ers lost 103-100 against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 during the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
Simmons’ last double-double/triple-double in the regular season came prior to the playoffs. On March 17, 2021, in the 76ers’ 109-105 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the guard finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists in 46 minutes.
While the Nets guard’s performance was an improvement, the 26-year-old still has more work to do to live up to his contract. Defensively, the LSU product makes Brooklyn a better team. That should go without saying.