Nets GM Sean Marks Reveals Their Plans at Center

Hassan Whiteside and Dwight Howard

Getty Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat posts up Dwight Howard #12 of the Charlotte Hornets during a preseason game at American Airlines Arena

Now that we know a little bit more about the future of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving as Brooklyn Nets, the biggest question mark going into the season is who their starting center will be. Ben Simmons is known to be getting runs as the Nets’ lone big man, according to head coach Steve Nash, who highlighted his versatility and what he brings to the team at center. 

“If he’s the ‘lone big,’ that’s a role we would definitely play him at,” Nash said. “But he’s also our playmaker and point guard.”

It lends an interesting offensive and defensive option for the Nets. However, Simmons won’t be able to match up against certain teams centers like Joel Embiied, Robert Williams, Jarrett Allen, and more, and so who will be their big man enforcer is a question mark. Nic Claxton is an obvious role, but he is still young and will be given the early months of the season to prove he deserves the role. If not, the Nets are believed to possibly target Dwight Howard or Hassan Whiteside type options in the middle of the season. Day’Ron Sharpe will also get a chance to prove he can fill that role for the Nets before they look to a veteran big man. 

Nets. GM Sean Marks on Situation at Center

Nets general manager Sean Marks recently spoke at Media day about how the team will approach their situation at center with the belief that they will roll first with their two developing bigs. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing Nic and Day’Ron out there,” Marks said. “And see what they can do. They put in the time on the court with our coaching staff this summer and really put in long hours. If you noticed, their bodies have changed and matured. … At the end of the day, I’m excited to give Nic and Day’Ron a shot out there and see how they perform.”

Sharpe had a strong offseason and impressed in this summers Las Vegas Summer League action. His strong play also had him named one of the league’s ‘best kept secrets’ ahead of his sophomore year with the Nets. 

Sharpe isn’t the only player that impressed this offseason, Nic Claxton was around the organization for most of the summer, and the team liked what they saw. 

“I thought Nic turned the corner this summer,” Nash said. “His maturity and professionalism, the way he attacked the summer, was (more of) a step up than he has in the past. Just a natural evolution of him maturing. So I think just physically he’s stronger, better fitness level. I think he’s continuing to develop.”

If Sharpe or Claxton don’t look like they will be able to hold down the center role for Brooklyn in extended minutes the team may look to target the previously mentioned veteran big man, but for now they look to be committed to the young players on their roster.

Nash on Simmons Playing Center

Beyond Sharpe, Claxton, or other possible free agent additions, Ben Simmons is likely to see a lot of time at center for the Nets. Steve Nash lauded the All-Stars versatility, which allows him to make the decision to play him in multiple positions.

“Very unique,” Nash said of Simmons after the second full practice of training camp on Wednesday. “That’s what makes Ben great. That’s why I don’t care if he ever shoots a jump shot for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s welcome to, but that is not what makes him special and not what we need. He’s a great complement to our team, and he’s an incredible basketball player because of his versatility.”

Simmons on Playing Center for the Nets

For the first time, we heard Simmons comment on the possibility of playing center following the team’s September 28 practice. 

“I’m looking forward to it,” Simmons said. “I’ll play wherever the team needs me to play, whatever helps. I can guard 1 to 5, play 1 to 5. I think it’s just one of those things where we have so many different talents on this team, you could put me anywhere to help get points, get stops, whatever it is. … I love playing the 5, I don’t mind.”

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