When Ben Simmons was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the hope that was he could potentially be in the next line of generational, all-around superstars. LeBron James was even uttered as a comparison by some national prognosticators before Simmons suited up at LSU for his lone collegiate season.
The Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Draft Lottery that year and paired Simmons with Joel Embiid, a duo that formed instant chemistry and shot them up the Eastern Conference standings soon after. Simmons had his faults, especially well-documented on the offensive end, but his unique strengths as a jumbo-sized playmaker and two-way engine made a potential ceiling outcome immense.
After a tumultuous ending to his five-year stint in Philadelphia — being publicly called out by Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers in the East semifinals — Simmons can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
On the court to properly optimize the talent of Simmons, the Brooklyn Nets are the best fit on-paper to bring out his special two-way potential. Alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with the Nets, Simmons will enter as a moldable ball of clay who can play a multitude of roles. Simmons can not only run an offense setting up his superstar teammates, but he can also operate as a pick-and-roll threat rolling to the basket. On top of that, his speed for a near-seven-footer makes him a lethal weapon to deploy in transition opportunities, which will be plentiful in Brooklyn.
Picture Draymond Green during the Golden State Warriors’ championship years. He was the glue that kept it all together, as he still does today for their resurgent comeback. Simmons in Brooklyn being a fulcrum point within the Nets’ system is such a tantalizing idea when placed next to Durant and Irving. Not only can Simmons defend at an All-NBA level, but he can start scoring opportunities off the rebound with reckless abandon. Irving will quickly mesh with Simmons as well in three-man spots where pick-and-roll situations, plus a moving Durant, is on the table each possession.
It’s an exciting thought exercise to finally envision…