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Nets Could Become A Modern Day Version Of ‘Showtime’

Kevin Durant #7 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets look on in the final seconds of their 109-103 loss against the Boston Celtics during Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on April 23, 2022 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images).

 

The Kevin DurantKyrie Irving era for the Brooklyn Nets has been defined by instability and disappointment, but the one constant it has had has been immense potential.

Ever since the superstar duo first suited up together for the 2020-21 season, many people around the league felt the Nets could or would become the NBA’s next transcendent team.

It looked like all that potential would go unrealized earlier this summer when Durant asked to be traded and Irving was involved in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it looks like both of them have re-committed themselves to the team and to each other.

The most intriguing piece of the 2022-23 Nets will be Ben Simmons, the versatile 6-foot-11 man they acquired last season in the James Harden trade.

Aside from his excellence on the defensive end, Simmons will give Brooklyn a fast-breaking dimension and up-tempo thrust it hasn’t really had before.

If Simmons is fully committed to the role head coach Steve Nash asks him to play, many feel the Nets could become a dynamite fast-breaking team.

 

Showtime In Brooklyn?

In the 1980s, the Lakers won five NBA championships and grew into arguably the greatest team in league history thanks to their withering transition game.

That fast break, as well as the era in general and its zeitgeist, became known as “Showtime.”

In many ways, it was a preview of how NBA basketball is played today, as L.A. had lots of length up and down the roster, not to mention speed and athleticism.

Today’s NBA is all about wing players, and the Nets now have plenty of wings who can get things done on both ends on the floor.

Simmons is a wild card, as he has mostly played point guard so far in his career, but he can play, at least in theory all five positions.

Nash said as much shortly after his team was swept in the first round of the playoffs in May by the Boston Celtics.

“I think he plays both [point guard and point forward],” Nash said. “I think he’s going to handle the ball, initiate offense, particularly in transition. He’s an incredible playmaker, but we have the luxury that Ben can also be a roller, playmaker out of the pick and roll. … He will also sometimes be the center.”

If Simmons is a full-time point guard, and if he is consistently aggressive in pushing the ball upcourt, it will give Durant, Irving and others plenty of easy baskets, as well as lots of easy baskets for himself.

Among the other Nets players who would benefit from a full commitment to fast-break basketball are wings Royce O’Neale and T.J. Warren, both of whom are newcomers, and center Nic Claxton.

In addition, Joe Harris, Patty Mills and Seth Curry should get plenty of good looks at 3-pointers on the fast break or in early offense.

The potential is there for the Nets to average 120 points a game, or at least come close.

 

The Big Question With Simmons

Of course, any discussion about Simmons has to inevitably turn to his mental and emotional state.

After Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t sure if Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team in 2021, the Louisiana State University product demanded a trade, cut off almost all communication with the team and refused to report to training camp.

After being traded to Brooklyn, he still didn’t suit up after having back surgery, but he also claimed he was dealing with a mental health issue.

Going back to before he was drafted, there have always been questions about Simmons’ aggressiveness, commitment and overall mental makeup.

Nash will have a tough task ahead of him in terms of keeping Simmons focused, motivated and committed to basketball.

But if Simmons stays focused, motivated and committed, he could become the catalyst for arguably the NBA’s most explosive team.




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