Ben Simmons, now a member of the Nets, is hopefully nearing his debut with the team. It goes without saying that Brooklyn will look drastically different on that day than they did when the season opened. However, that’s not inherently bad, as this roster is deeper and possibly even a better fit than they were to start the year.
The additions of Seth Curry and Andre Drummond (who came to Brooklyn along with Simmons) have already proved to be significant. As impressive as they’ve been, Simmons has an opportunity to prove himself as the crown jewel of the deal. While Simmons is not without his faults, he is immensely talented and does an impressive job not only impacting the game himself, but also elevating the level of play of his teammates.
More of a support star than one in a traditional sense, Simmons’ game is built around his All-NBA defense, yes, but also his ability to create opportunities for his teammates. It’s fair to suggest that every player in Brooklyn will benefit alongside Simmons but who will benefit the most? Who will make the leap in either ability or efficiency thanks to Simmons’ presence?
On paper, Patty Mills is an ideal teammate for Simmons. One who thrives not just beyond the arc but specifically in catch and shoot situations. This season, Mills is attempting six shots from beyond the arc in catch-and-shoot situations. Additionally, Mills is completing those shots at an impressive 43.2 clip. It’s hard to imagine Mills improving those numbers, but if there’s any way that’s possible, it’s by playing with a player like Ben Simmons. Simmons has consistently been among the NBA’s best in assisted three-pointers, and that’s not likely to change in Brooklyn.
Additionally, Simmons’ defensive prowess atones for the Mills limitations in the same area allowing for Mills to participate in certain situations such as late in games (specifically in the playoffs) where it may not be responsible to deploy him otherwise. Patty Mills has been one of the brightest spots on the Nets this season, so obviously, the more he can play, the better.
Mills has spoken multiple times about his support for Simmons. The two share an obvious connection, but the support seems to go even deeper than that. Mills genuinely believes in Simmons, and Simmons will likely reward that belief as long as the two share the hardwood.
All of the drama the Brooklyn Nets have endured has been anything but ideal for Kevin Durant. He didn’t ask for Kyrie Irving to only play in 14 games by the All-Star break. He didn’t ask for James Harden to repeat his Houston shenanigans. Kevin Durant hasn’t asked for anything except a commitment to basketball, and yet, he has to suffer through regardless.
While Simmons certainly isn’t drama-free, he seems to have a reignited passion and a desire to prove all the detractors wrong. That passion plays perfectly into Durant’s desire to win and having a star teammate who not only is focused on winning in Brooklyn but also seems to already be well-liked in the locker room will go a long way to helping Durant potentially bring a championship to Kings County. Ben Simmons will be an enormous help to Durant off the court, but equally as important on the court as well.
It’s not a well-kept secret that defense hasn’t been the Nets’ bread and butter. That is, however, Ben Simmons’ greatest trait. When Durant was healthy, he was often tasked with not only leading the team offensively but defensively as well. Durant would often match up against the opponent’s greatest weapon (matchup depending), and while he’s more than capable of doing that, the arrival of Ben Simmons will give Durant an opportunity to pace himself, hopefully allowing for a deep and concentrated run in the postseason.
Durant has missed 23 games so far this season and still remains without a timetable for his return. When he does return, however, the presence of Simmons will allow him to come on at a responsible pace and give Brooklyn their best shot at a healthy Durant in the playoffs.
Joe Harris (Next Season)
No, Joe Harris hasn’t been ruled out for the remainder of this season; however, with another ankle surgery seemingly on the horizon, it’s becoming more likely by the day. Whether or not Harris plays this season, it’s unlikely that the Nets will get the same Harris that they’re used to. Whenever he does return, however, expect his on-court relationship with Ben Simmons to be a sight to behold.
One of the top three-point shooters in the league, Harris is exactly the type of player that both mutually thrives with Ben Simmons. Yet another catch-and-shoot specialist, the combination of Harris and Simmons makes for a dangerous lineup. Similar to Mills, Harris is averaging 5.8 three-point attempts in catch-and-shoot situations, knocking them down at a 46.8% clip. Albeit that’s in a limited 14 game sample size, it’s par for the course over Harris’ career.
While likely fans will have to wait until next season to see them both at full capacity, the idea of Joe Harris and Ben Simmons is one that should excite the fans, the organization, and the players as well.