“I love playing the 5,” said Simmons. “I don’t mind.”
Simmons has been one of the more controversial players in the League over the past year. In his six years with the Philadelphia 76ers, The four-time All-Star showed promise to be an elite two-way player. Defensively he had shown his capabilities, like in 2020 when he led the League in steals with 2.1 a game and a career defensive rating average of 105.3, better than LeBron James (103.8) and multiple-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert (103.5).
The struggle for Simmons has been at the offensive end, especially in big moments. The Sixers formed the duo of Simmons and Joel Embiid in hopes of achieving multiple championships with their all-around talent. While Embiid has seemed to improve in every facet, Simmons was scrutinized for not taking jump shots and a lack of aggression at times.
With misses at the line and outside of 15 feet from the basket, teams like the 2019 Toronto Raptors and the 2021 Atlanta Hawks would figure out a way to take Simmons out of the equation. Though the series went to seven games in each series, Simmons looked out of sync offensively that he’d pass up open layups.
Fast forward to the 2022 trade deadline, Simmons was traded to the Nets, with Brooklyn hoping the transaction would lead to the Nets winning a championship with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. A back injury season kept him sidelined for the rest of the year and resulted in an early playoff exit for the Nets.
Doubts raised through the roof, but Coach Steve Nash managed to keep his core together and has even made promises to improvise the offense around Simmons, letting it be known that he doesn’t care if Simmons “ever shoots a jump shot.”
Simmons may have the defensive prowess to play the five, but the team looks to implement an offense that makes him valuable, even if that means he takes more shots from the perimeter.
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