October 3 marked a milestone for the Brooklyn Nets. Not only was it the opening of the preseason for the franchise, but it was also the day they finally debuted their All-Star trio of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons. For those who may be tardy to the party, Simmons was acquired by the Nets in the waning hours of last February’s NBA trade deadline. He was the centerpiece of the blockbuster trade that sent former NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons was supposed to debut last season, but a back injury held him out of action.
Before Monday, the former Defensive Player of the Year finalist had not played an NBA game since Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals. After being out of NBA action for more than 15 months, many people began to wonder how Simmons would look when he finally returned. The All-Star forward did a little bit of everything in his Nets debut, notching 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal in Brooklyn’s 108-127 loss to the Sixers.
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Kyrie Makes Guarantee to Ben Simmons
It is well-known that Simmons is an elite defender, but many believe his offensive skill set leaves a lot to be desired. During the Nets’ loss to his former team, Irving guaranteed Simmons that playing with him and Durant would make the game easier for him.
“I told [Ben Simmons], ‘when you’re playing with some high-level players, despite what you’ve heard, we’re gonna make the game easier for you.’” Irving said to Erik Slater of Clutch Points following the Nets preseason opener.
Durant also chimed in on Simmons’ Nets debut, noting that he looked ‘great’ during Brooklyn’s loss to the Sixers.
“He looked great to me,” Durant said of Simmons. “Obviously he just wanted to get his feet wet. As time goes on he’s going to get his rhythm.”
Steve Nash Chimes in on Simmons’ Debut
The reason Simmons’ offensive game was put under such a microscope in Philadelphia was that as the Sixers co-star alongside Joel Embiid, he was expected to carry more of a load offensively. Especially because the majority of his teammates could not create their own shots. But in his new situation with the Nets, Simmons is playing with two of the best shot creators in NBA history in Durant and Kyrie.
However, Nets head coach Steve Nash says that the transition for Simmons won’t be as seamless as some expect it to be and even predicts things could get ‘ugly’ before they get better.
“Ben’s playing in a totally different unit that he’s played in the past, different style. It’s a big departure. Many of these guys haven’t played together. So, we got to go through this,” Nash told reporters after the loss per NetsDaily.
“It’s gonna be ugly at times, but as the half wore on, you know, we started to see glimpses of the potential, the way the ball moved, the way they were hounding the basketball defensively. So, I thought Ben looked pretty good overall and grew into the game throughout the half.”
The Nets’ preseason rolls on as they will take on the Miami Heat on October 6.