Early in the third quarter of the Brooklyn Nets' Wednesday night loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Kyrie Irving attempted to distill what the team needs from Ben Simmons down to three words: "Shoot it, Ben!"

Brevity can lack context, and Kyrie doesn't take the time to stop, break the fourth wall and explain to the camera everything else the Nets need from Simmons. But he's also not wrong.

Simmons was 2-of-7 from the floor in Milwaukee and is now 9-of-20 from the field for the season. Wednesday marked the second time this year he finished with at least as many fouls (four) as points (four).

He has tallied 21 points against 18 fouls through four games, and the Nets have been outscored by a total of 43 points during his minutes on the floor—the fourth-worst mark in the league among 100-plus players who have logged as many minutes so far.

Of course, the two most important words in the previous sentence might just be "four games." That sample size is nothing. Early-season stats get warped every night. Plus-minus, in particular, isn't always telltale. KD owns the absolute worst mark in the league from the above 100-plus-player group.

Leeway must be given. Simmons is still working through his return from back surgery, a 16-month(ish)-long absence and a well-documented yet poorly covered mental health struggle. Players don't always simply return to previous form. (Simmons also tweaked his back against the Bucks.)