Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash knows Ben Simmons isn’t a three-time All-Star because of his outside shooting, and he isn’t going to force him to be someone he isn’t on the floor.
“Very unique,” Nash said of Simmons, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “That’s what makes Ben great. That’s why I don’t care if he ever shoots a jump shot for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s welcome to, but that is not what makes him special and not what we need. He’s a great complement to our team, and he’s an incredible basketball player because of his versatility.”
Nash is right about Simmons being “unique.”
The 6’11”, 240-pound Australian can play the role of facilitating point guard, try to attack from the wing or even slide in as a small-ball center. Nash suggested center is “a role we would definitely play him at” depending on the matchup, which would put even less pressure on the 26-year-old to shoot from the outside.
Simmons’ resume includes a Rookie of the Year, two All-Defensive nods and a spot on the 2019-20 All-NBA third team. Yet he has shot just 34 three-pointers in his career, connecting on five for a mere 14.7 percent.
While he is yet to take the court for the Nets, his inability to shoot from the outside as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers allowed opposing defenses to sag off him and either double-team Joel Embiid on the blocks or clog up driving lanes.
However, that will be far more difficult to do against the Nets because Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving should take advantage of the resultant space on the outside with their shooting and driving abilities.
Their presence means Simmons doesn’t have to score to be effective, as he can facilitate and attempt to get his All-Star teammates the best possible looks.
“You’re playing with some great NBA players—some of the greatest,” Simmons said. “So, for me, it’s just playing alongside them, figuring out where they want their shots, how they move, different spots on the floor where I need to be. It’s just timing.”
The LSU product is set to return this season after missing the 2021-22 campaign, so there will likely be some growing pains as they become accustomed to each other on the floor.
But it seems those pains will not come from Nash expecting Simmons to shoot from the outside just to fit the role of a traditional point guard.