Ben Simmons Introduced by Brooklyn Nets at HSS Training Center
Nets acquired three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive Team player at trade deadline
Ben Simmons has arrived in Brooklyn.
After joining the Nets for Monday morning’s shootaround and watching that night’s win against Sacramento with his teammates on the bench, the three-time NBA All-Star discussed last week’s blockbuster trade at HSS Training Center on Tuesday morning.
“I didn’t sleep much the first few days, but overall it’s been a great experience so far,” said Simmons. “The organization has welcomed me like their own and whatever I need they’ve been very supportive with that, which has been great, same as the players. Super excited to get out there eventually and play.”
The Nets acquired Simmons along with Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, plus two first-round draft picks, in a trade deadline deal last Thursday that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia. Curry and Drummond made their Nets debuts in Monday night’s 109-85 win, with Curry leading Brooklyn with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting plus seven rebounds and five assists while Drummond had 11 points and nine rebounds. Both players jumped right into Brooklyn’s starting lineup.
“It felt like it should feel always,” said Simmons of his first experiences with the Nets. “My teammates embraced me as soon as I got here, and then besides that the fans were very welcoming which was great and the energy just in the locker room and just around the building was terrific.”
Simmons brings one of the league’s most unique player profiles to Brooklyn — an elite playmaker and multi-level defender with a center’s size at 6-foot-11. The No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons was the Rookie of the Year for the 2017-18 season after missing the 2016-17 season due to injury. He was then named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2019-20 and to the All-Defensive First Team each of the past two seasons.
Over four full seasons — he has yet to play this season — Simmons has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 56 percent. He’s compiled 32 triple-doubles, 13th in NBA history, in 275 games.
“Ben is such a unique talent that his brilliance is he does so many things well on a basketball floor,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash before Monday night’s win against Sacramento. “He’s able to playmake and create for others with his size, speed, and vision. He’s an incredible player on the fast break. He’s an elite defender, incredible rebounder for his position, and he can play different spots offensively. He can facilitate as the point guard, he can be a playmaker, be a roller, so he can facilitate in a lot of different ways offensively and we know what he has defensively. He’s kind of a non-traditional basketball player who gets it done in so many different areas of the game. It’s going to be fun to put him in our program and try to help him find his best level, which is exciting.”
The start of a new journey pic.twitter.com/4cSKZnOXdk— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 15, 2022
“He's one of one, in my opinion,” said Kyrie Irving after Thursday night’s game in Washington. “I think we all have skill sets that are very unique. And we bring different things to the table. And when I look at Ben I see so many different skill sets that he has, that he can bring out to the floor with us and I see so many different positions he can play out there for us. I really just appreciate his IQ, just to be able to manage the game — [at] 6-11, 6-10, so him doing that and then coming to our team and adding that depth, I'm really excited. I don't really get too caught up in the comparisons but you could definitely see flashes of greatness from other players that have come before him.”
Born in Australia, Simmons came to the United States to play high school basketball at high-powered Montverde Academy under coach Kevin Boyle, who had also been Irving’s coach at St. Patrick’s in New Jersey.
Simmons has a long relationship with another teammate, fellow Australian Patty Mills.
“Somebody who’s had a ton of experience in the league, playing on great teams, the Olympic team also, but our relationship goes back to when I was super young,” said Simmons. “My dad coached against him when he was 12 or something super young. We’ve had that relationship for a while and he’s been always very supportive of me if I’ve ever needed anything so I think that chemistry there has been there for a while. But it’s going to be our second time playing together so I’m excited for that.”
“I've got his back. I've always had his back,” said Mills. “And now I have the opportunity to be with him. So I've had his back from afar and I wish I was with him earlier in his career. But being able to do what I can from afar. So I'm excited to be able to be with him in this aspect and help him in any way necessary. That's how it's always kind of been. But at the end of the day, I'm excited for this. And I know he is as well. For us to come together, I think it's going to be great for both of us. For me, to continue to learn things and for me to share with him as much as I can as a professional and as an athlete.”
The timetable for Simmons to return to the court and make his Nets debut is still to be determined. Nash said before Monday’s game that it was largely in the hands of the performance team. But Simmons is looking forward to being part of a fast-paced, offensive dynamo that he’ll be a big part of powering.
He said he spoke to Kevin Durant shortly after the trade on Thursday. With Durant and Irving, plus more shooters in Curry, Mills and Joe Harris, the Nets can flood the floor with scorers and playmakers for Simmons to work with.
“I try to compare it to my earlier seasons with JJ Redick, Ersan Ilysaova and Marco Belinelli,” said Simmons. “We were playing Miami in the first round and just the way we were flowing and playing, that's how I know how to play basketball. I'm the kind of player where I like to see everybody scoring and contributing whatever way they can. That's the way you've got to play to win. If you want to be a winner, you've gotta play with all the guys on the floor and maximize the abilities that everybody has.”
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