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What Is Happening with Ben Simmons?

Some sports stars seem destined to have controversial careers and that’s definitely been the case with Ben Simmons in the last few months. How did he get into such a situation and what is happening with him right now that can affect the NBA championship odds?

Who Is Ben Simmons?

Born in Australia to an American father who was also a basketball player, Simmons moved to the US and played a single season of college basketball with the LSU Tigers. He made such a big impression in that season that he was the first pick in the 2016 NBA draft, joining the Philadelphia 76ers.

Despite losing a year to a foot injury sustained at training camp, he went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2018 and has been in the NBA All-Star Game on three occasions. A 6 foot 11-inch power forward, Ben Simmons started his NBA career with 18 points and 10 rebounds before going on to make history as the first player to get 170 points, 100 rebounds, and 80 assists in the first 10 games of a season.

His rookie season almost ended in glory, as the 76ers made it to the playoffs second round and Simmons posted great numbers in the postseason games. In fact, he was the first rookie to get a triple-double in the playoffs since Magic Johnson did the same thing in 1980.

What Was the Big Controversy?

Despite having a stellar career until then, Simmons appeared to lose all confidence during 2021 and suffered the worst free throw percentage in postseason history, with a 34.2% record putting him ahead of even famously bad free-throw exponents like Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal. With his confidence badly dented, he chose to pass up an open dunk in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which proved to be a crucial moment in a game that Philadelphia went on to lose.

Team-mate Joel Embiid and coach Doc Rivers made it clear in interviews that they were unhappy with the player, and Simmons responded by stating that he didn't want to play for the 76ers anymore. This led to him demanding a trade despite still having four years left on his contract.

He missed the team's training camp and preseason, putting his home in Philadelphia up for sale as a sign that he was ready to move. $8.25 million in payments from the team were with-held from him, but Simmons eventually got back into the team before he was quickly thrown out after refusing to meet his coach's demands,

Simmons' fines quickly spiraled up to a reported $10 million, which made him the most-fined player in NBA history. The fines stopped for a while when he said that he was suffering from mental health issues but then started up again. In the end, the only sensible solution left was to try and find a way to move him and let him try to get his career back on track elsewhere.

Where Is He Now?

Ben Simmons finally got the move away from Philadelphia that he so badly wanted when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in February 2022. However, he then suffered a slipped hernia disk that kept him out of the action for what was left of the regular season.

Simmons confirmed that he was ready to return for game four of the first round of the playoffs, against the Boston Celtics, on April 24. However, the team later announced that he wouldn't be playing because of a sore back.

As for what happens next, no one knows yet. Simmons hasn't played an NBA game this year, but he said in an interview when joining the Nets that the mental health issue was just “a bunch of things” he was dealing with in his personal life.

It isn't clear what version of Ben Simmons fans will see when he finally returns to the court. Will it be the free-scoring rookie who lit up the NBA, or will he be the player who looked afraid to shoot during the last games for the 76ers? His shockingly low shooting numbers for the 2021 playoffs suggested that he was a player who had lost all confidence in his ability.

Some analysts suggest that it was done to a fear of being fouled and having to hit free throws, where he was having a terrible time. It's also been suggested that this reluctance to shoot shows problems with his desire or his attitude, which had already been questioned in the run-up to the NBA draft where he joined the 76ers.

Since the Nets lost to the Celtics in the playoffs without Simmons, we won't see him again until next season. He didn't play a single minute of the regular season or postseason this time around, and Brooklyn fans could be forgiven for wondering whether they'll ever see Ben Simmons doing what he does best.