After a turbulent NBA off-season due to uncertainty about the futures of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets will finally start their 2022-23 season when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19. The Nets will finally win to put their first-round win over the Boston Celtics behind them and focus on playing basketball.
But aside from the opportunity to start with a fresh slate, the Nets are looking forward to the debut of three-time NBA All-Star Ben Simmons. Simmons was acquired by the Nets at the close of business in February when they sent James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers.
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The all-star forward brings a new dynamic to the Nets now that he’s on the roster. With the addition of Simmons, the Nets have a legitimate lockdown defender who can ease Durant and Irving’s defensive responsibility given his ability to guard multiple positions.
It’s one of the reasons ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst says he’d rather have Simmons than Lakers star Russell Westbrook.
“But if you ask me who I’d rather have, I’d rather have Ben Simmons,” Windhorst said of the choice between Simmons and Westbrook on a recent episode of ESPN’s “NBA Today.” “Number one, he’s younger. Number two, he’s taller. He’s defending number three and I need a quality defender to win at the highest level.”
Another thing to watch for next season with the Nets is the trajectory of Nets sophomore Cam Thomas. His rookie-year stats don’t jump off the page, averaging 8.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game on 43/27/83 shooting splits. But Thomas had moments where he showed his star potential, like his 30-point breakout against the Utah Jazz last season.
Thomas also shone in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas this summer, leading the circuit as the top scorer for his second straight year. His performance caught the attention of several competing executives, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
Sources told the Post that the Nets have received interest in the 6ft-3, 210-pound guard from multiple teams, according to league staff [Thomas] could likely bring back a first-round pick. According to LegionHoops, the Cavaliers, Mavericks and Pelicans have made specific offers,” Lewis wrote in July.
Given the amount of talent currently sitting on this Nets roster, Thomas, who plays a key role, may not be on the cards for the young guard. He has the tools to become an elite player later, but the Nets now want to fight for championships. It will be interesting to see if the former LSU Tiger is on the roster after the trade deadline.
The Nets enter the 2022-23 season with an intact roster, but somehow it feels like so many questions about the team remain unanswered. But all the drama surrounding that Nets roster can go away if the team can string together some wins to open the season. As the old saying goes, winning heals everything.