After an NBA offseason filled with turmoil due to the uncertainty of the futures of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets will finally kick off their 2022-23 season when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19. The Nets will finally get to put their first-round sweep by the Boston Celtics behind them and focus on playing basketball.
But beyond getting the opportunity to start with a fresh slate, the Nets are looking forward to the debut of three-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons. Simmons was acquired by the Nets at the trade deadline in February when they sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers.
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Insider Picks Ben Simmons Over Russell Westbrook
The All-Star forward brings the Nets a new dynamic now that he is on the roster. With the addition of Simmons, the Nets have a legit lockdown defender who can alleviate the defensive responsibilities of Durant and Irving as he can guard multiple positions.
It is one of the reasons ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst says he would rather have Simmons than Lakers star Russell Westbrook.
“But if you’re asking me who I’d rather have, I’d rather have Ben Simmons,” Windhorst said of choosing between Simmons and Westbrook on a recent episode of ESPN’s “NBA Today”. “Number one, he’s younger. Number two, he’s bigger. Number three, he defends, and I need a high-level defender to win at the highest level.”
Cam Thomas a Player To Keep an Eye On
Another thing to look out for on the Nets next season is the trajectory of Nets second-year man Cam Thomas. His rookie year stat line is not one that jumps off the page, averaging 8.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game on 43/27/83 shooting splits. But Thomas had moments where he showed his star potential, such as his 30-point outburst against the Utah Jazz last season.
Thomas also shined brightly in the NBA summer league in Las Vegas this summer, leading the circuit in scoring for his second consecutive year. His performance caught the eye of several rival executives, according to Brian Lewis of the “New York Post”.
“Sources told The Post that the Nets have received interest from multiple teams regarding the 6-foot-3, 210-pound guard, with league personnel saying [Thomas] likely could bring back a first-round pick. The Cavaliers, Mavericks, and Pelicans reportedly made concrete offers, according to LegionHoops,” Lewis wrote in July.
With the amount of talent currently sitting on this Nets roster, Thomas having a major role may not be in the cards for the young guard. He has the tools to become an elite player down the line, but the Nets are looking to compete for championships now. It will be interesting to see if the former LSU Tiger is on the roster after the trade deadline.
The Nets come into the 2022-23 season with their roster intact, but somehow, it feels like so many questions about the team remain unanswered. But all the drama surrounding this Nets squad can disappear if the team can string together some wins to kick off the season. As the old saying goes, winning cures everything.