Forget shaking off the early season rust, Ben Simmons is looking like the old Ben Simmons again.
The Aussie has been at his best in the Brooklyn Nets’ road clash against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday (all times AEDT), playing more aggressively offensively and in transition.
Consistently cutting and attacking the basket, Simmons has great presence around the rim including converting an and-one play in the second quarter.
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At half-time, he had 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting including 2-of-3 from the free throw line to go with three rebounds, one assist and a block in 17 minutes.
“He’s a different guy,” YES Network’s Ian Eagle noted, before latter adding he “looks so comfortable on the offensive end” and calling his improved play a “metamorphosis.”
Simmons also made a hook shot inside the final two minutes of the half in another impressive play.
He continued his brilliant form in the third, getting into the paint at will and maintaining great touch at the rim, with Eagle calling him “unguardable.”
A true offensive threat again and getting to his usual spots inside, this version of Simmons is unrecognisable from the player who struggled so badly in his return to the court early in the season.
“He has talked about it – the health and feel of his body and how he physically looks,” YES Network’s Sarah Kustok said of Simmons.
“Just that attack mindedness, that’s what you want to see. So much of how Simmons is playing is just him not overthinking. Just playing and reacting, the instinctual nature, like he’s playing with the force.
“What we saw when he was at his best with the 76ers was that. He was a force and he would always look to push the tempo and be on the attack. That’s exactly how he’s been playing.
“These are all the things when Ben first came to Brooklyn, why he would fit along the players of that group.
“You’re starting to see that flourish and you’re starting to see players play with one another, the nuances and wrinkles and understanding where guys want the basketball.
“I think there’s such a great understanding now with different players.”
It helped the Nets get out to a 65-57 lead at the main break, with Kyrie Irving leading the scoring for the visitors with 14, while Myles Turner had 15 for the Pacers.
Indiana came with a rush though in the second half as Buddy Hield ad Bennedict Mathurin got hot.
Mathurin scored 10 points in the fourth to surge the Pacers ahead, with his fastbreak layup while getting fouled putting the hosts up 103-98 with 7:41 left.
Kevin Durant responded at the other end though, scoring nine points over a \minute period to get the Nets within 107-110 with 5:34 remaining.
It came as Simmons picked up his fifth foul with 5:48 left as Jacque Vaughn pulled him from the game.