Ben Simmons inept shooting ability has become a radioactive topic of conversation around the NBA in recent years, but Brooklyn Nets Coach Steve Nash doesn’t seem fazed. In fact, his recent praise of Simmons is a significant departure from typical discourse about the oft-maligned player.

In an interview with ESPN, Nash said that his team stood to benefit from Simmons’ play, with or without a jump shot.

With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant on the floor, Simmons’ defensive ability and paint presence seem to be enough for Nash.

“That’s why I don’t care if he ever shoots a jump shot for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s welcome to, but that is not what makes him special and not what we need,” Nash said. “He’s a great complement to our team, and he’s an incredible basketball player because of his versatility.”

Nash’s comments come after a tumultuous season for Simmons, in which he refused to play for the Philadelphia 76ers, was traded to the Nets and missed more time with a back injury. His holdout for the 76ers and subsequent absence with Brooklyn received widespread criticism throughout the league.

Despite accusations of being soft or entitled, Simmons’ qualifications as a potential contributor for the Nets is undeniable. Before trouble began in Philadelphia, Simmons played exceptionally well in his early career and earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2018. His skills as a defender often outweighed his inability to shoot well for a time, as he and teammate Joel Embiid led the team to multiple postseason runs.

In Brooklyn, Simmons is on a roster with even more star power, which could allow him to become a role player for Irving and Durant. This could benefit him for a number of reasons, as his time in the spotlight and obvious weaknesses on offense have both been subjects of intense criticism. Nash’s plan seems to be to find a position for Simmons to thrive.

The Nets are coming off a profoundly underwhelming season, as the team underperformed during the regular season and lost to the Boston Celtics in four games in the first round of the playoffs. Simmons hasn’t appeared in a game since the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals, when Embiid blamed the team’s loss on his poor performance against the Atlanta Hawks.

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