Don’t sleep on the Brooklyn Nets!
Especially if Ben Simmons can find his “bad motherfucker” persona
BY DAVID THORPE
As of today, the Brooklyn Nets are not title favorites. It’s easy to see why. The odd smell of the Kevin Durant mess still lingers. Kyrie Irving is arguably the least reliable star of the past few generations. Ben Simmons hasn’t appeared in a game since his infamous “Process”-ending pass in the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Hawks in the 2021 Eastern Conference semis. Steve Nash has to feel like his seat is still a little warm, too—if everyone comes out healthy and the Nets aren’t rolling, he might wonder whether Nets owner Joe Tsai will still have his back.
Even if Simmons reemerges as an All-NBA player, the Nets are hardly guaranteed a trip to the NBA Finals. They are inexperienced and small inside; they need Joe Harris to be healthy and productive again; they need 60-plus games from KD; and the questions about Irving are here to stay. The idea that the Nets can get all these jagged pieces to fit together almost seems laughable.
It certainly did to me until … Did you happen to catch Simmons’ appearance on JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast?
Simmons was smiling, laughing, joking—his calmness radiated from the screen. Redick, his former veteran teammate, opened Simmons up a bit and got him to speak candidly. He was loose. In fact, Simmons’ response when asked about that 2021 pass against the Hawks: “I should have dunked that shit.”
Maybe the Sixers should have hired JJ Redick to coach their team last year…. Hopefully, Nash was taking notes because that’s the Ben Simmons they need to show up this season: a confident Simmons is a bad motherfucker.