The oddsmakers feel the Nets should be in the NBA championship conversation and so does Ben Simmons.
In his first media appearance in a long time, Ben Simmons addressed his excitement for the upcoming year with the Nets and where he felt he fit in on the team. With Kevin Durant’s return, having rescinded a trade request over the summer, and Kyrie Irving, the Nets have vaulted back to being one of the teams expected to win an NBA title this year.
“I think we have a special team,” Simmons said during an appearance on the Old Man & The Three podcast. “I think if we get it all together we’re going to be champions. That’s the end goal.”
Simmon is expected to play a big part for the Nets if they hope to have any championship aspirations this season. The point guard is coming off a year where he didn’t play due to a trade demand and to address his mental health.
After Simmons was traded to the Nets in February, injuries hampered any return to play plans that he and the Nets had and eventually led to him undergoing back surgery in May. The 26-year-old said that he felt great heading into training camp next week and was looking forward to get to work with Durant and Irving.
“We just have an unbelievable team and I know for me after the surgery I knew what it was going to take to get back to where I need to be,” Simmons said. “I’ve been locked in. It’s been tough, obviously, no rehab is easy. But it’s a grind. That’s what it’s all about for me. That’s my mini-season. Any time I’ve had a situation where I’ve been hurt or whatever it is that’s my time to lock in and focus and get to where I need to be.”
Simmons had tried to get back on the court multiple times after the Nets acquired him, which included in the playoffs when it leaked that the team was targeting him to get back for Game 4. He was ultimately unable to get back on the floor and the Nets were swept out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
Simmons’ inability to play in the playoffs drew a heap of criticism on the organization and Simmons himself, who had already been the target of it for his decision to hold out to be traded from Philadelphia.
“The situation I’m in is not a normal situation so it’s hard to be like ‘yo, I actually can’t play.’ Knowing me I’m like let me just try and prove them wrong,” Simmons said. “Let me try to get on the court cause everyone is saying you need to play otherwise it’s going to be bad for you. So when it got to that point when I’m in practice and I know I’m not feeling right. My muscles, my glute’s not working, I can’t jump, I can’t dunk and people don’t see that stuff.
“But that was the reality of it and me I’m about to try to go into Game 4, I’m on the ground I can’t even move. It’s a real thing and for me it’s frustrating because you have everyone saying whatever, but I tried to block that out. If I’m hurt, I’m hurt. I’m not trying to sit out.”
But with Simmons healthy now, the Nets can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they’ll add a strong defender to their roster that can help a team that struggled without the ball last season. Still, Simmons has come under plenty of fire for his shooting struggles.
However, the Brooklyn point guard had a response to those that come at him for that.
“People also don’t understand my goal is to purely win,” he explained. “I don’t go out there, I’m not trying to have this many points or whatever it is. My goal is to win, so I’m trying to do whatever I can during the game to make the right plays and make the right reads to help my team win.”