As the NBA regular season rapidly approaches, we take a look at some of the highly motivated players that have a lot to prove in the imminent 2022-23 season.
Motivation is a powerful angle in the NBA.
Redemption is an even more powerful driving force of narrative.
Amidst the squeaking of the sneakers and the roar of the crowd, motivation and redemption will inevitably become spectacles under the brightest lights.
The truth is, some players will be more motivated than others this season. Some players simply have more to prove. And some players have the chance at ultimate redemption.
Will they capture it? Or will they let it slip?
These are five players seeking that ultimate redemption — these are the five players in the NBA with the most to prove this season.
Who has the biggest chip on their shoulder this NBA season?
5. Ben Simmons — Brooklyn Nets
On Oct. 4, Ben Simmons played in an NBA basketball game for the first time in over 15 months.
It was merely a preseason game, yes, but he had to start somewhere.
Simmons has a tremendous amount to prove this season because he sat out all of last season, demanding a trade and refusing to play another minute for the Philadelphia 76ers. By the time he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, a back injury that later required surgery kept him out the rest of the year. A year of his basketball prime was essentially wasted.
But for Ben Simmons, the year off (and the money that he lost) was not a waste. He told J.J. Redick on the Old Man & the Three podcast, “I want peace and happiness. I want to be in a good place. If that costs me whatever it’s gonna cost me, that’s what it costs.”
This should be a commendable notion. Sometimes players (and people in general) just have to do what’s best for them, no matter how it looks. No matter what people will say.
Even so, there are no sentiments that will stop all eyes from being on the polarizing player that is Benjamin David Simmons in Brooklyn this season. And there is nothing that will stop him from having to prove that he is not a liability on offense in the playoffs.
It starts at the free-throw line. The last time we saw him in real NBA action, Simmons shot 15-for-45 on free throws in the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. the Atlanta Hawks. And his 34 percent mark for the entire 2021 playoffs was the worst playoff free throw shooting percentage of all time.
But for all the nitpicking and scrutiny of his flaws, it’s important to appreciate and recognize his superb defense, ball handling, passing and elite transition game. At the end of the day, Simmons is still a great basketball player, previously a third-team All-NBA selection in 2019-20. Voted one of the best 15 players in the league!
Now he just has to play ball and make some free throws.