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Nets could become a modern version of ‘Showtime’

Kevin Durant #7 and Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets watch the closing seconds of their 109-103 loss to the Boston Celtics during Game 3 of the first round of the Eastern Conference NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on April 23, 2022 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images).

The Kevin Durant-Kyrie 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 for the 2020-21 season, many people around the league felt the Nets could or would become the next big thing in the NBA.

It seemed like all that potential might not materialize earlier this summer when Durant asked to be traded and Irving was involved in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers, but it appears the two have recommitted to the team and 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.

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Aside from his excellence on the defensive end, Simmons will give Brooklyn a quick-breaking dimension and up-tempo momentum that he really hasn’t had before.

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

Showtime in Brooklyn?

In the 1980s, the Lakers won five NBA championships and became arguably the best team in league history thanks to their withering transition play.

That counterattack, 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 LA had a lot of length on the list, not to mention speed and athleticism.

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

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

Nash said that 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’ll handle the ball, he’ll start the offense, particularly in transition. He is an incredible playmaker, but we have the luxury that Ben can also be a playmaker outside of the pick and roll. … Sometimes he will be the center too.”

If Simmons is a full-time point guard, and if he’s consistently aggressive in pushing the ball up, he’ll give Durant, Irving and others a lot of easy shots, as well as a lot of easy shots for himself.

Among the other Nets players who would benefit from a full commitment to fast-break basketball are forwards Royce O’Neale and TJ Warren, both newcomers, and center Nic Claxton.

Also, Joe Harris, Patty Mills and Seth Curry should get a lot of good looks on 3-pointers on the fast break or early offense.

The potential exists for the Nets to average 120 points per game, or at least come close.

The big question with Simmons

Of course, any discussion of Simmons inevitably has to come back to his mental and emotional state.

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

After being moved to Brooklyn, he was still undressed after undergoing back surgery, but he also stated that 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 mindset.

Nash will have a difficult 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 most explosive team in the NBA.


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