James Harden’s replacement with the Brooklyn Nets never suited up and now the expectation is that Ben Simmons will be ready to join the lineup next year.
Simmons has his fair share of question marks surrounding him and the biggest one might be exactly what is he going to look like next year? He underwent back surgery after the season ended and it’ll be more than a year since his last NBA action by the time the the next season begins.
Provided both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are still on the roster, Simmons will likely slot in as the team’s third option, and coach Steve Nash opened up about what his role could really be.
Simmons Will Be Flexible
Nash says that Simmons’ size and playmaking will make him a good candidate to play practically any position in any role.
“I think he plays both [point guard and point forward],” Nash said. “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, playmaker out of the pick and roll.”
The size of Simmons opens up a lot of his game, and his playmaking and defense have been parts of his game that have never been in question.
“He’s just such a well-rounded, 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,’” he continued. “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 positionless basketball trying to create offense in the halfcourt.”
The Nets were killed by the Celtics’ size in the playoffs, so having somebody like Simmons would help out in that area if he did have to fill in at center, but he’s certainly not the team’s long term solution there.
Will He Be Ready?
Since nobody has seen Simmons play with the Nets, it’s tough to tell how prepared he’ll be for the start of the season.
The Nets believe he’ll be fully recovered from his back surgery by the start of training camp, so he’ll have some time to work up some sort of rapport with Irving and Durant.
In the offseason the Nets will likely pick up some new faces that’ll need to play with Simmons a bit to get used to the flow, so that will be an important camp for Brooklyn.
Simmons’ role is very different in Brooklyn than it was in Philadelphia because he’ll be less relied upon for his scoring and more for his playmaking. On paper he looks like a very good fit, but there’s no telling what he’ll look like until we’re able to see the finished product play a game together.