Ben Simmons is finally expected to make his Brooklyn Nets debut. After being dealt to Brooklyn in the James Harden blockbuster at the February NBA trade deadline, the Australian point guard battled a lingering back issue as well as a mental block that kept him out of the postseason. Simmons spent the summer rehabbing and has been cleared to return to the Nets for the upcoming training camp and preseason.
Not only is Simmons expected to make his return this season, he will also reportedly be playing a new role in Brooklyn. The point guard is expected to play extended minutes at the center position. The rumors for this started after comments by Steve Nash at the end of last season. Simmons gives Brooklyn added versatility with his ability to defend all five positions and because of that he is also getting compared to players like Draymond Green for the impact he may be able to make on next year’s Nets squad.
Rick Pitino Compares Ben Simmons to Draymond Green
In a recent interview with Adam Zagoria of NJ.com, Pitino called the Nets a championship contender and noted their talent and depth as a reason for doing so. One of the extra elements that Simmons brings with his return is play-making and defense, and because of that, Pitino noted that Brooklyn got their version of Draymond Green that will be making his return from injury on a stacked Nets roster.
“Every team needs a Draymond Green and I think Simmons probably will serve that role,” he said. “He’s the playmaker, he’s the defensive player.”
Simmons is an incredible NBA defender and was the runner-up in the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award voting. He brings a defensive presence that the Nets desperately need. His playmaking, which Pitino mentioned, is also almost perfectly slated for this Nets team. Simmons has never been surrounded by the type of shooters that he will be in Brooklyn with Durant, Irving, Curry, Mills, and Harris. Having a player like Simmons who can drive to the hoop at will and have shooters all around him will be dangerous. How Nash factors in Simmons into his offensive game plan (if he has one beyond isolation with Irving and Durant) is one of the most exciting things for this Nets team.
Steve Nash on Ben Simmons at Center
In his end-of-year press conference, Nash revealed how the team could potentially look to use Simmons in the upcoming season and how point forward and center is one of the plans.
“I think he plays both [point guard and point forward],” Nash told reporters on May 11. “I think he’s going to handle the ball, initiate offense, particularly in transition. He’s an incredible playmaker, but we have the luxury that Ben can also be a roller, a playmaker out of the pick and roll.”
“He’s just such a well-rounded and versatile athlete and skilled, 6-10 player that I think it would be limiting to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got to handle the ball all the time. You have to facilitate the offense all the time,'” Nash said. “I think that’s what’s special about him is the varied skills he brings to the table, so yes he will facilitate and be the point guard. He will also sometimes be the center. Other times he will be the guy that’s just playing position-less basketball trying to create offense in the half court.”