Ben Simmons, shooting, Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets, training, latest, updates
Ben Simmons’ biggest flaw is that he can’t or won’t shoot. Luckily for the Nets, they don’t need him.
Head coach Steve Nash insisted Simmons does so many other things that he doesn’t care if the ultra-versatile All-Star ever takes a sweater.
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“Very unique,” Nash said.
“That’s what makes Ben great. That’s why I don’t care if he makes a jump for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s welcome, but that’s not what makes him special and that’s not what we need. He’s a great addition to our team and he’s an incredible basketball player because of his versatility.
“He’s a great filterer, great vision. With his size and speed he’s able to push the ball in transition and also get into space. So a good fit for Kevin [Durant] and Ky [Irving] to try to make it a little easier for them.
The Nets haven’t had a chance to see that yet.
Simmons was the centerpiece they received in exchange for trading James Harden to the 76ers.
Simmons, however, missed all of last season due to mental health issues and a herniated disc that required surgery.
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Now, after being cleared to play pick-up games for the past few weeks, Simmons has come through day two of training camp not only healthy, but surprisingly fit.
“Amazing. I’m getting used to the top-down game, but I feel good. It’s good to be here with the guys,” Simmons said.
“I’ve always been one of the guys who can get into shape pretty quickly, so that really wasn’t a concern for me. It’s the stamina of just playing, [5-on-5] ascend and descend. But overall I feel good.
The guys he referred to included Durant and Irving, the two main reasons the Nets won’t need Simmons to tour, and the other two members of Brooklyn’s new Big 3.
The sooner this trio can mesh, the more wins will pile up.
“I think they’ll have a certain element of cohesion right off the bat because they’re all really good basketball players,” Nash said.
“But hopefully it’s something that evolves and they can continue to find ways to improve each other. That’s the beauty: they go really well together.
For Simmons, finding that fit will be all about defending and rebounding, and creating open looks on the other end. Durant and Irving’s basketball IQ should make that easier.
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“You play with great NBA players, some of the greatest,” Simmons, 26, said.
“For me it’s just about playing alongside them, figuring out where they want their shots, how they move, different places on the floor where I need to be. It’s just a matter of timing.
One place Simmons will need more is in the paint, whether in a dunker spot or as a game man.
At 6-foot-11, 240 pounds — and “strong as hell” according to new Nets teammate Markieff Morris — Simmons is going to play minutes at center.
“If he’s the only big one, that’s a role we would definitely play him in,” Nash said. “But he’s also our playmaker and playmaker.”
After losing Harden, one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA, the addition of Simmons’ 8.1 career tips will be a godsend.
“He definitely helps us defensively, rebounding,” Nash said. “And not just the talent he has, but also just his size. The overall size of the squad is something we struggled with.
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Simmons is expected to join Durant and Nic Claxton to give the Nets three 7-foot spans in the starting lineup.
In four healthy seasons, Simmons has spent 8.1, 10.9, 6.5, and 7.6 percent of his defensive possessions on center, respectively, and 6.7, 8.2, 7.5, and 7.2 percent on offensive.
Simmons had 42 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds playing center against the Jazz and Rudy Gobert on Feb. 15 of last year.
After having his best playoff outing (31 points on 11-for-13 shooting, with nine assists) playing center in a first-round win over the Nets in 2019, expect his time there be more than just cameos and gimmicks.
“I can’t wait to be there,” Simmons said.
“I will play wherever the team needs me, whatever helps. I can play 1-5. It’s just one of those things where we have so many different talents on this team, you could put me anywhere to help get points, saves, whatever.
“I love playing 5. I don’t mind.”
This story originally appeared on the New York Post and has been republished with permission