Shaquille O’Neal Rips Ben Simmons After Scoreless Game Vs. Celtics

'I need you to be aggressive and score'


Jan 13, 2023

Ben Simmons came up empty in the scoring column for the second time in his five-year NBA career against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

This underwhelming offensive display prompted some much-deserved criticism from two Hall of Famers afterward. Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, both former NBA stars who now serve as commentators on TNT, are known for telling it how they see it. And that’s exactly what they did.

With Brooklyn’s No. 1 scoring option in Kevin Durant sidelined with an MCL sprain, Simmons had the golden opportunity at his fingertips. And he blew it.

“When you’re touted as a great player, you have to do it all,” O’Neal said, per NBA on TNT video. “Yes, he had the assists and rebounds, but you have the ability to score. We need you to be aggressive. He’s not even looking at the basket. Not even looking at the basket. Kevin’s not there. I need 12, 14, 16 points. I need you to be aggressive and score. You get the ball, high-percentage shot, fast break, I need you to be aggressive and score. I need you to at least act like you want to score. He’s not even looking at the basket right now.”

To be fair, the night wasn’t a complete loss for Simmons. The 6-foot-10 guard collected 13 rebounds and nine assists with two steals and a block. However, he didn’t even attempt to put any scoring together, as his 0-for-3 shooting with no free-throws stat line would indicate.

Barkley agreed with O’Neal’s assessment following the 109-98 Nets’ loss.

“His numbers should go up without Kevin Durant,” Barkley said. “He’s the second-best player on the team, he can’t not score. That’s hard to do.”

Simmons’ zero-point night marked a rare occurrence. He became just the 18th player in NBA history to total at least 13 assists with no points, according to ESPN.

The 26-year-old has averaged a career-low 7.5 points on just 5.9 field goal attempts per game through 31 games this season. It’s the first time that Simmons has fallen into the single digits in both categories in his career.

Thumbnail photo via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images
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