Has Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers fans officially made peace? Well, it would appear as though that might be the case.
On Tuesday, Simmons made his much-anticipated return to Philadelphia, taking the floor at Wells Fargo Center for the first time since joining the Brooklyn Nets last season. However, as opposed to being showered by a sea of boos from the crowd, pregame was much less hostile and more peaceful between Simmons and Philadelphia fans in attendance.
Perhaps Simmons has become a much more lovable figure in Philadelphia considering the level of production — or lack thereof — that he’s provided the Nets this season. In comparison to the trade return of James Harden, the two aren’t even comparable.
Through 12 games played prior to Tuesday night, Simmons has averaged 7.8 points on 5.9 field goal attempts with 6.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 50% from the charity stripe. All are career lows for the 26-year-old, who earned his third-career All-Star appearance during the 2020-21 season.
Meanwhile, for the 76ers, Harden — recovering from a foot injury suffered on Nov. 2 against the Washington Wizards — has crept his way back to form. After making nine starts for Philadelphia this season, Harden has averaged 22 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. Playing 36.8 minutes per game — nearly 10 minutes more than Simmons — the former league MVP has shot 44.1% from the field, 33.3% from 3-point territory and 92.9% from the free-throw line.
Both the Nets and 76ers aren’t too far apart at all in the standings with just one game separating the two from ninth and tenth place in the Eastern Conference before their matchup in Philadelphia.