Thanks For the first time in 468 days, Ben Simmons steps on an NBA floor for a regulation basketball game against the New Orleans Expectations are high for Ben in the season opener given his pedigree, but they’re also tempered. The preseason provided fans with a taster of what to expect from the young star—the good, the bad, and everything in between.
Given his extended layoff, the Nets are stripping things down to the basics and putting Simmons in situations he’s most comfortable in—typically in the fastbreak. Brooklyn’s expectations for Ben are more macro, with Steve Nash stressing the importance of maintaining aggression to warp the defense.
“Just to be able to put pressure on the defense,” said Steve Nash, “Whether it’s throwing the ball and pushing in transition or trying to break the paint every chance he gets in the halfcourt as well.”
Ben, of course, can do more than just blast holes in opposing transition defenses. His unique blend of size, speed, and court vision allows his Nets to place him in a variety of scenarios.
“He can also (hurt defenses) as a roller, creating off DHOs, pick-and-rolls. So there’s multiple ways that he can get in there and create problems. He’s also a willing and excellent screener. There’s plenty of things that he can bring to the table alongside his playmaking and size and athleticism, offensively, that can help us go,” said Nash. “I think the vision is for him to be the engine of this team on both sides of the ball.”
New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green spoke similarly about Ben, commenting on how sharp he is at punishing defenses for ducking under screens and sagging into the paint due to Ben’s lack of a jump shot.
“Ben is a different guy out there. His size, his ability to guard multiple positions. Offensively he’s pushing the pace. If you sag off him, he can look for dribble handoffs to the next guy, screen to get an open shot,” explained Green. “So you’ve gotta be aware of him and be really smart in how you guard him.”
Between the returns of Simmons and Pelicans star, Zion Williamson, there’s a lot to get excited for in Brooklyn’s season opener.