For the second time in a year, the Brooklyn Nets have flipped their roster. Now, Ben Simmons, one of the most polarizing if gifted players in the league, is a Net. (It still feels strange to write that out.)
Simmons has yet to make his Brooklyn debut. He’s been dealing with some back tightness — the severity of which is uncertain — while ramping up after his seven-month long layoff. But soon, he’ll make his return to the court ... ideally alongside two other All-Star talents in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. To prepare fans for what’s to come, I took a look at Simmons’ film from his days as a 76er for an in-depth film study, rebooting the series Scouting New Nets.
0:35 Defense — Simmons was the runner-up Defensive Player of the Year last season for a reason; he’s a legit 1-through-5 defender, capable of smothering ball-handlers and running the center position in a pinch. Simmons is great at using his length to his advantage without fouling, and he’s the perfect prototype for defending superstar wings.
3:05 Scoring — Obviously, the jump shot is one thing. But Simmons is also predominantly a one-handed finisher at the rim. Granted, he’s still excellent in that skillset, an upper percentile rim finisher for most of his career. He’s shown no fear of backing down mismatches in the post, and he appropriately mixes in euro-steps and spin moves to leave defenders nauseous on drives. We’ll see if his refusal to use his left matters in key moments.
5:05 Passing + other offense — Simmons is an historically gifted passer for his size and the post is a great way to feature that skillset. Thus, it’d be prudent for the Nets to work in certain sets — like Golden State Warriors-esque split cuts — to showcase his expert floor mapping. Players like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Seth Curry, Patty Mills, and hopefully Joe Harris should thrive off Ben’s ability to find tough passing windows.
Simmons is an immensely talented, albeit incredibly unfinished player who has missed a lot of time and development. Thus, some of his skills are also incredibly unrefined, and he relies heavily on being one of the quickest, biggest, most athletic players in the league. His defense is an obvious asset, and if the Nets can find ways to make him a threat on offense aside from just standing in the dunker spot, there’s a chance he may finally hit his sky-high potential.