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Trae Young defends Ben Simmons for passing up the layup on him: "I hate how people talk about how bad of a player he is"

Had Ben Simmons mustered enough courage to go for the dunk or a layup it could have been a different ending for Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.
Trae Young reacts to Ben Simmons passing up the wide open layup against him

Trae Young defends Ben Simmons for passing up the wide-open layup against him

Trae Young shared his thoughts on a crucial play that many think is the reason Ben Simmons wanted to leave the Philadelphia 76ers -- passing up a wide-open layup in Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.

Defending Ben Simmons

On a play that could have saved his team against the Hawks, Simmons (un)characteristically passed up a wide-open layup. It’s even more comical to think that it was Young and his light frame that changed the power forward’s mind. 

Had Ben mustered enough courage to lay it in or dunk it, he would have been a hero. He also might still be playing for Philadelphia. But as fate would have it, that botched play triggered the months-long saga that ended with Simmons being traded to the Nets.

Looking back on the play, Young defends Simmons and still thinks highly of him despite the criticisms from the fans. He shared his thoughts in an interview with JJ Redick.

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"I think he kind of knew I was going to foul, and that's why he passed it up," Trae said. "You know, in these moments, when you spin, it's a quick moment. He may not know it was me. He sees a blue jersey right behind me, which he can just drop off and maybe get a layup. I mean, it's a bang-bang play, and it sucks for him. I understand that's a tough play because he's a good player. I hate how people talk about how bad of a player he is. That's what I'm saying about recency bias because I think he's a really good player."

Fans started to turn their back on Simmons after that play. They couldn’t fathom how a 6’11” got intimidated by the help defense of a 6’1” guard. Ben was unfairly attacked on social media, and it caused division in the locker room and slowly, he distanced himself from the fans.

Different ending

Trae also mentioned that he would have fouled the 76ers forward if Simmons decided to push through with the layup. Of course, Philadelphia still could've lost the game, given Ben’s atrocious percentage at the line, but who knows what really could have happened.

Some experts think the Australian passed up the shot because he was expecting the Hawks' star to foul him, and he’s scared of being put on the line. This only adds to the fans' frustration. As a professional player, Ben should prioritize improving his free throws. But because Simmons failed to work on them, it affected his confidence, resulting in passiveness on the offensive side of the floor.

It’s unfair to now-Nets star because we don't what was happening inside his mind. But basketball is a game of pressure -- it rewards those who don’t shy away from pressure and lambasts those who shy away from it. On that specific play, it did the latter.

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