Ben Simmons has been subjected to a lot of criticism after his performance in the crucial Game 7 against Atlanta Hawks for a place in the Eastern Conference Finals. Following the shambolic display, Shaq has no sympathy for the point guard whose play arguably led to the 76ers exit from the playoffs.
The former No.1 pick and the rookie of the year had a series of outings to forget against the Hawks. In the decisive Game 7, he could only muster up 5 points, and when he had a clear opportunity to put up two more, the 6’10” Australian proceeded to pass the ball to complicate things.
Simmons took responsibility for the defeat and admitted that he has a lot to work on. Moreover, he has also went on to withdraw his name to represent Australia in the Olympics to focus on his game during the off-season.
While the panel of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal appreciated Simmons’ post match comments, the latter admitted that he would have been frustrated with an important teammate not performing for so long.
“If I play Game 1 and 2 and I know I’m not helping my team, what do you think I’m going to do in Game 3? I like what he said, but it don’t take seven games to know you’re not playing right. Get right. Be aggressive. I don’t want to hear all that,” Shaq said.
The former center also went on to say that if he was Simmons’ teammate, he would have knocked him out.
“If he was in my locker room, I would have knocked his a– out,” Shaq said.
Crucial phase ahead for Simmons
The upcoming off season will be very crucial for the point guard as he hopes to hone his skills under coach Doc Rivers, who has envisioned a plan for him.
“I’m positive in Ben,” Rivers said. “I’m very bullish on Ben still. But there’s work — and Ben will be willing to do it. And that’s the key.
“Sometimes you have to go through stuff to see it and be honest with it. Obviously what Ben just went through, I can’t imagine that. Because he has so much greatness around him in all the things that he does. There’s areas that he can fix quickly in my opinion and get better, that can take him to another level.” Rivers said