The newest chapter of Ben Simmons‘ career starts on Oct. 19 at the Barclays Center against the New Orleans Pelicans. The 2016 first-overall pick is finally set to form an elite trio with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant for the Brooklyn Nets.
Simmons was shipped from the Philadelphia 76ers to Brooklyn at the trade deadline of last season for James Harden. The basketball world erupted as the big 3 of Harden, Irving, and Durant couldn’t bring the Nets their first championship in franchise history.
When Simmons rolled into town, high expectations were still set on the Nets, and eyes laid on him to make a significant impact defensively. His back-to-back All-Defensive team selections and a fifth-place finish in steals (1.6) for the 2020-2021 season produced a case for it.
However, the Nets got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics, and Simmons did not play a single game last season, leading to a rash of media backlash and rumors of their superstar players leaving over the summer. The team is still intact now, and Coach Steve Nash believes ‘patience’ will bring Simmons back into the All-star play he had in Philadelphia.
“He (Simmons) is an incredibly talented and unique player,” said Nash. “But he’s not going to be at his best in the short term, and he’s just got to continue to slog through this period of returning to play and getting his confidence, timing and rhythm back.”
That ‘best’ as Nash mentions, won’t require much scoring from Simmons. The Nets seem to be hopeful that the elite scoring of Durant and Irving would alleviate the pressure off Simmons from shooting jump shots, but Durant would like to see Simmons take as many shots to not only find a shooting stroke but also regain that confidence around the rim.
“Just trust in him. Pass him the ball when he’s open,” said Durant. “When Ben is aggressive and gets downhill and looks for everybody and then puts the ball in the rim, it’s going to be a plus for our team.”
Nash may preach how patience will tell the story of Simmons’ start in Brooklyn, but if Simmons still struggles to shoot, Nash already has a backup plan to remain a top-tier team in the East.
Simmons has been linked to the possibility of playing center this season, which would be an upgrade to the squad considering the position is getting smaller across the League and requires much more skills than rebounding. Simmons would indeed find success throughout the season because of his playmaking and defensive intangibles, but it’ll be up to Nash to make Simmons an effective scorer that’ll once again submit the team as title favorites.
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