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Takeaways from Nets practice: Injury news, Ben Simmons’ aggressiveness

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Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Ahead of a two-game trip to the great Midwest that’ll conclude their preseason, the Nets had one last practice to tune things up on Tuesday. The exhibition schedule hasn’t been kind to Brooklyn, going 0-2 against two Eastern Conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat. Now, the Nets have a chance to change their preseason fate with what should be challenging games against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Until then, let’s go through some practice takeaways, starting with the not-so-fun stuff.

Injury update

*Sigh*, well... it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a clean status report anytime soon.

Joe Harris, Seth Curry, T,J. Warren, and Edmond Sumner are all listed as OUT for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee.

Joe Harris’ status might cause some angst among fans, but fortunately, his absence is more precautionary, we are told. He’s being withheld from Wednesday’s contest because of foot soreness, said head coach Steve Nash—and not pain in his left ankle that required two surgeries last season.

Seth Curry, meanwhile, continues to return from his off-season ankle surgery which took place five months back on May 9. His status is up in the air for Brooklyn’s regular season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans according to Nash, so it’s fair to wonder if we’ll see him suit up in the two preseason games beforehand.

Warren continues to work his way back from foot surgery in 2021 and is set to be re-evaluated in November while Edmond Sumner is being withheld from playing on Wednesday due to a hip sprain. Nash did not disclose any other information about Sumner’s status nor any mention of his recovery period.

“Aggressiveness” is the key word with Ben Simmons

Nash was asked numerous questions about Ben Simmons after Tuesday’s practice, whose preseason showing has been a fairly mixed bag. His six-point, five-assist, four-rebound Nets debut was a great building block for success, but following that up with just four points and six turnovers against Miami wasn’t so encouraging.

Simmons’ role as a Net has been fairly similar to what was asked of him in Philadelphia, as Nash explained: handling the ball like a point guard, and then rolling to the rim and filling the dunker spots like a big man depending on the possession. Interestingly, Nash expects to see Simmons spending less time in the dunker spots and more time making plays on the move as a ball-handler or roller as a Net, a surefire sign that the Nets plan to take full advantage of how dynamic he can be.

In lineups where Ben shares the floor with a traditional center like Nicolas Claxton, Nash detailed that the Nets plan to use Simmons on the second side, likely cutting and slashing along the baseline or on a 45-degree angle from the wings like a supersized Bruce Bruce.

The different machinations which Simmons can be utilized are enthralling to ponder, and his versatility is the tool the Nets will need when etching out success this season. Regardless of where Simmons is placed on the floor and what’s asked of him, one thing seems to reign supreme when dictating his success, at least in the eyes of teammates and head coach: aggression.

“I think he’s got to be aggressive. That’s what playmaking comes from,” said Nash. “If you’re not aggressive, that’s when playmaking becomes hard; you’re trying to put pressure on the rim, that’s when playmaker becomes easy. So, getting him back to that burst, that athleticism, that ability to kind of just kind of out-physical people, that’s a huge component of his playmaking, He’s not just going to come down and put his back into people and zip balls around the gym. He’s got to break the paint and make plays, whether it’s in transition or the halfcourt. And the other role is that if he can get it on the short roll, but then he’s breaking the paint in another scenario—that’s also good for us because he is such a gifted playmaker in odd-man situations.”

And here’s what Kevin Durant had to say on the matter, similarly citing aggressiveness in a very encouraging manner:

“I’m not here to be babysitting anybody. Like, Ben knows that if he got to try to be aggressive, go be aggressive. Who gives a sh— if you make it or miss it, we like you being aggressive, and he tells me the same thing,” said Durant.

“We're always talking to each other about look, We need to be more aggressive and look to score the ball. That’s the name of the game is putting the ball in the hoop. So when Ben is aggressive to get downhill and look for everybody and put the ball in the rim, it’s gonna be a plus for our team. But I don’t have to tell him this every day. He knows what it is.”

KD also discussed the team’s overall “vibes.”

“The vibes have been straight but who knows what the vibes will be if we hit a skid or if we’re not playing well or if somebody gets injured,” said Durant. “That’s what makes a team is how we stick together through those times.”

When he was asked how many regular season minutes he hopes to play a game, Durant responded, “48.”

“Every coach that I played for wants to keep my minutes down but when the game is tight or we’re not playing well, I look over and say ‘well, I was going to keep his minutes down tonight but he’s just going to throw me in the game,’” Durant added. “We’re playing well, my minutes will be down. If we’re not, I got to play more.”

The Nets and Bucks face off in Milwaukee at 7:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. The game will be telecast on both YES Network and ESPN.