Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant make network debuts

Brooklyn Nets' Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant, whose relationship was tested during their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.


Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant, whose relationship was tested during their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

The future of Brooklyn Nets basketball appeared bleak at various points during the summer, with Kyrie Irving’s looming player option and Kevin Durant’s shocking trade demand just hours before free agency opened. But the Nets were able to reconcile with their franchise player when he decided to return to Brooklyn to fulfill his contract.

Another thing for Nets fans to look forward to is the debut of former Defensive Player of the Year finalist Ben Simmons. Simmons was acquired at last year’s close in the blockbuster deal that sent former NBA Most Valuable Player James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Nets opened training camp on September 27 in anticipation of their season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19 at the Barclays Center. In new training camp footage released by the Nets, Brooklyn’s star-studded trio first took the court as teammates and gave Nets fans a go a preview of what is to come this season.

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Nash: Simmons is a great match for networks

Parting ways with Harden, one of the most prolific scorers in league history and a multiple All-Star, could not have been an easy decision for Nets general manager Sean Marks and the rest of the front office. But the Nets were able to swap out one all-star talent in Harden for another in Simmons.

Simmons brings an additional dynamic to the Nets that they didn’t have with Harden as a third star. This is someone who can consistently and effectively limit the opposing team’s best player every night.

Simmons is also a great playmaker, similar to the role Harden had during his truncated stint with the Nets. Head coach Steve Nash says the all-star forward is a “great” fit for Brooklyn’s roster.

“It’s pretty easy for me. Ben fits perfectly into this group. He’s an incredibly important player for us. It’s not about statistics. It’s not about jump shots. It’s about how versatile he is, his height and athleticism, his ability, all those things that he does.” Nash told reporters Thursday via NetsDaily.

“He needs to know how important and valuable he is to the team, whether he scores two points or twenty. It’s a big part of what we’re doing and where we’re going.”

Nash challenges Claxton to improve free throw shooting

Another factor for this year’s Nets squad will be the advancement of their starting center Nicolas Claxton. Claxton was a restricted free agent this offseason and was set to be pursued by several teams, but the Nets got him back on a two-year contract.

This will be a big season for the 23-year-old Big Man as all eyes will be on him to see if he can make the next leap as a starting center in this league. One thing Nash wants Claxton to focus on as he improves is his free throw shooting.

“It’s really free throws for Nic. It doesn’t shoot out of the ground. It’s free throws. I think Nic has improved this summer: his professionalism, he’s better physically and I think his free-throw technique has improved.” Nash said about Claxton, per NetsDaily.

“There are a couple of tweaks we made this summer that he’s been working really hard on and they’ve become a lot more consistent, which is hard to come by. I hope he can get the ball off the line better this year but he’s definitely put in the time and improved in training.”

If the Nets pull it all together this season, they could be one of the top contenders for this year’s title. Ben Simmons, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant make network debuts

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