There’s been a lot of talk about Ben Simmons’ upcoming debut season with the Brooklyn Nets. After demanding a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that drafted him, all eyes will be on the three-time All-Star to see how he fits into his new team.
As a career 14.7 percent marksman from beyond the arc, Simmons is not seen as a threat to perimeter teams. But despite being a low-percentage shooter his entire career, Nets star Kevin Durant expects he still expects Simmons to remain aggressive in finding his shot.
“I’m not here to babysit anyone. For example, Ben knows that if he has to try to be aggressive, then be aggressive. Who cares — whether you make it or miss, we like it when you’re aggressive, and he tells me the same thing,” Durant told reporters via NetsDaily.
“We always talk to each other about looks. We have to be more aggressive and try to hit the ball. That’s the name of the game, putting the ball in the hoop. So if Ben goes downhill aggressively and looks for everyone and puts the ball in the rim that will be a plus for our team. But I don’t have to tell him that every day. He knows what it is.”
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It’s not breaking news that Simmons is being banned from shooting due to his low shooting rate. One could argue that this was the reason he ended up in Brooklyn in the first place.
For those who might be late to the party, Simmons’ reluctance to make a near-wide-open layup against a much smaller Trae Young in the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals is often credited as the catalyst for the trade demand he made the following season asked.
Nets head coach and Hall of Famer Steve Nash says Simmons’ more aggressive shot selection will only make playmaking easier for him.
“I think he has to be aggressive. If you are not aggressive, the game setup will be difficult; You’re trying to put pressure on the rim, then making play becomes easy,” Nash said, per NetsDaily.
“So getting him to have that burst again, that athleticism, that ability to just blow people off the body, that’s a big component of his game. He’s not just going to come down and stick his back into people and zip balls around the gym.”
Between Kyrie Irving sitting out more than half the season because he refused to get the COVID vaccine and the myriad injuries that have plagued them throughout the year, the Nets have often had a pencil-thin list. That meant whoever was available had to increase their contributions to remain competitive in the playoff race.
But none contributed more than Durant, who averaged 37.2 minutes per game last season, his highest average since the 2013 season. After torn Achilles tendon in 2019, the Nets’ coaching staff are still wary of their minutes evade. But for the Nets star, the time he plays depends on how well the team plays.
“Every coach I’ve played for wants to keep my minutes down, but when the game is tight or we’re not playing well, I look over there and say, ‘Well, I wanted to keep his minutes down tonight, but he just goes to throw me in,'” added Durant. “We’re playing well, my minutes are up. If not, I have to play more.”
The Nets begin the season on October 19 when they face off against the New Orleans Pelicans.