Ben Simmons should fit right in with the Brooklyn Nets

Ben Simmons (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Ben Simmons (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

Ben Simmons should fit right in, when he’s ready, with the Brooklyn Nets. 

The news since the NBA Trade Deadline has revolved around the new-look Brooklyn Nets and the new-look Philadelphia 76ers.

On trade deadline day, the Nets and Sixers made the blockbuster trade that sent Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks to Brooklyn and James Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia.

The Nets knew they had to make a move to try and improve the roster as they fell in the standings going from 1st place to 8th place in the Eastern Conference and finding themselves battling for a playoff spot.

After MVP candidate Kevin Durant was sidelined with an MCL sprain, the team has struggled going 1-11 in their last 12 games. Now, with more than half a season’s worth of games already in the books and Durant’s status unclear on exactly how quickly he will be medically cleared to play, the Nets are hoping that their new acquisitions can keep them above water until Durant returns to the lineup.

Simmons’s awful playoff performance last year during the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks was magnified as his performance was placed under a microscope as the subject of much blame and criticism which lead him being at odds with the Sixers organization.

Now, Simmons gets a fresh start with a new team as Brooklyn appears to be the perfect destination for him. Simmons won’t have to worry about the pressure of developing a jump shot(for now at least). He will have Durant and Kyrie Irving on the floor with him which should allow him to solely focus on playmaking and defense.

That way, Durant and Irving can focus on scoring while Simmons does the dirty work. Lack of aggression and being hesitant when the team was counting on him were the root of the problems for Simmons in Philadelphia.

Passing up layups and dunks made him somewhat viewed as a liability and expendable. Simmons should be fine in Brooklyn because the Nets don’t lack any offensive firepower. A glaring weakness in Simmons’s game is his free throw shooting and as a 60 percent career shooter from the charity stripe, one has to wonder if head coach Steve Nash will trust him enough to leave him out on the floor late in close games and in clutch situations?

The Nets must figure out a defined role for Simmons as one suitable enough to play towards his strengths. One idea role would be the one Draymond Green plays for the Golden State Warriors where his main focus is on slowing down the opposing team’s best player as well as being a playmaker and creating for his teammates which should be easy for Simmons due to the plethora of shooters he will have at his disposal.

Nash will have the luxury of being able to insert Simmons anywhere in the lineup in order to create mismatches and exploit opponents’ game plans as he is capable of playing multiple positions and guarding virtually anybody. If Nash desires to, he could also deploy Simmons at the center position in a small-ball lineup if he wanted to get creative.

They have multiple players who can give them 30-plus on any given night but the Nets were lacking that player who could get them stops on the defensive end in crucial situations and now they have that player in Simmons. There has been speculation to some degree about Simmons’s work ethic and passion for the game and one has to wonder will he be dedicated enough to improve his overall game (especially his jump shot) for the success of the team?

Another question for the Nets coaching staff to ponder is whether Simmons can flawlessly adjust from being a superstar and focal point on a team to playing in a reduced role? For the most part, Simmons’s downfall in Philadelphia was largely due to his inability to improve and adapt in the clutch. He was unable to become the 1st option on offense due to his inability to make jump shots consistently.

But now he has a pair of teammates who are two of the most prolific scorers in the league and he doesn’t have to worry about carrying a team but anything he provides for the Nets on the offensive end is a plus. Simmons can ultimately become the Nets defensive anchor as he finished 2nd in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season.

As long as Nash can motivate Simmons to play with confidence, he should be fine. Simmons brings balance to this team along with his versatility, elite defense, crisp passing, and rebounding. The Nets offense should run more efficiently now that James Harden is in Philadelphia. At times Harden appeared to be a liability with his poor defense, slow pace and turnovers plagued the team. Simmons could improve the team in all those areas.

With the acquisition of Simmons, it automatically will increase the spacing on the floor, it’s going to increase defensive intensity, increase rebounds, increase playmaking and increase assists as Simmons should make the Nets a better overall team.

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Simmons ended up in a better situation in Brooklyn and should be more comfortable playing alongside Durant and Irving. Durant and Irving work hard as they could very well rub off on Simmons in a positive way not just on the court but off the court as well as he should take every opportunity to learn from two of the best.