Given Simmons’ well-chronicled offensive struggles, the Nets are built to withstand those woes with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn, however, can be a more balanced and complete team with what “Big Ben” can bring to the table.
Kristian Winfield, on the “The Athletic NBA Show,” explained Simmons’ possible impact this season:
“I think defensively he’s gonna pick up whoever the best player is on the other team, one through four. That’s gonna give everybody else some confidence in guarding their man.
“If you’re playing against the Celtics, you don’t have to worry about (Jayson) Tatum because Ben Simmons is basically Kawhi (Leonard) over there. Then, you can just focus on your guy. That’s really gonna do some good things for this team.”
Simmons isn’t nearly as accomplished as Kawhi Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner. Simmons, however, is a perennial member of the All-Defensive team and is bigger with more length than the LA Clippers superstar.
Part of the reason why Durant struggled badly against the Boston Celtics in the playoffs was his huge role on defense. At times, he had to defend Jayson Tatum, which took precious energy from the four-time scoring champ.
Heading into last season, Ben Simmons was named in a survey among coaches as the best defender in the NBA. He was in prime position to win the DPOY for the first time in his career before missing the season.
“Big Ben” effectively covers players across all positions, which could plug several of Brooklyn’s holes on defense. He’s always a threat to win the steals crown and was named by The BBall Index as the fifth-most versatile defender.
The Brooklyn Nets are looking at Ben Simmons at center
The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer published a report on how the Brooklyn Nets could utilize the prized forward next season. Brooklyn could roll out lineups with Ben Simmons at center.
Center could be nominal based on how the Nets line up, but he could be the team’s point guard. The Denver Nuggets use this all the time with back-to-back and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic being the actual playmaker.
Simmons isn’t nearly as good an offensive threat as Jokic, but his reading of the game, passing and anticipation are elite. On defense, the Nets could use him as a Swiss Army knife to disrupt opposing teams’ game plans.
The biggest and perhaps only problem with the plan is when the Brooklyn Nets face teams with imposing and bruising big men. Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jokic would be such problems for Brooklyn. Simmons’ fragile back could be in danger of flaring up against their onslaught.