Nets coach Steve Nash doesn't care if Ben Simmons 'ever shoots a jump shot'

Ben Simmons may have found his home.

The Brooklyn Nets don't expect him to shoot jump shots. That's according to head coach Steve Nash, who spoke on Wednesday about Simmons' role with his new team.

Simmons is practicing with the Nets and has been cleared to play after missing the 2021-22 season amid myriad issues. He held out and feuded with the Philadelphia 76ers prior to being traded to the Nets and missed time to tend to his mental health and a herniated disc in his back that required offseason surgery.

Nash spoke with reporters about Simmons' anticipated role with the Nets, which will be varied. But he won't be expected to take jump shots.

"Very unique," Nash said of Simmons, per ESPN's Nick Friedell. "That’s what makes Ben great. That’s why I don’t care if he ever shoots a jump shot. He’s welcome to, but that is not what makes him special and not what we need. He’s a great complement to our team."

Simmons has a skillset like none other in the NBA. A 6-11 point guard, he's one of basketball's best passers and playmakers. He's able to leverage his size and athleticism as a rebounder, inside scorer and elite defender who can cover any position on the floor. There's little on a basketball court that he can't do — with the glaring exception of one of the game's fundamental skills. He's not a willing or capable shooter.

FILE - Brooklyn Nets' Ben Simmons watches practice before an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 10, 2022, in Philadelphia. Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers have settled the grievance he filed to recoup a portion of last season's salary, a person with knowledge of the details said Monday, Aug. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)
After much delay, Ben Simmons is ready to make his Nets debut. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

In four active seasons of NBA basketball, Simmons has attempted 34 3-pointers. He's made five. In a league where outside shooting drives offense, this presents an obvious challenge for a player who's expected to have the ball in his hands. If opposing defenses know that Simmons won't shoot effectively, defense becomes that much easier.

At the same time, Simmons will be surrounded by more-than capable shooters, most notably Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two of the game's elite scorers. Can they actually make this work? Putting the pieces together around Simmons will add up to Nash's biggest tactical challenge in his third season as an NBA head coach.

It's obviously no secret that Simmons can't shoot. His lack of will to do so in the playoffs ultimately catalyzed his exit from Philadelphia. By getting out ahead of the issue publicly, Nash at least relieves some pressure on Simmons for his Nets debut.

One way the Nets could address Simmons' shooting woes is to play him inside while letting Irving run the offense. It's a strategy that would limit Simmons' playmaking abilities but could prove useful in high-leverage spots where his limitations as a shooter are exposed. Nash said on Wednesday that Simmons will see time at center.

"If he's the lone big' that's a role we would definitely play him at," Nash said. "But he's also our playmaker and point guard."

Simmons is likewise ready to take on that role when called upon.

"I'm looking forward to it," Simmons said. "I'll play wherever the team needs me to play, whatever helps. I can guard 1 to 5, play 1 to 5. I think it's just one of those things where we have so many different talents on this team, you could put me anywhere to help get points, get stops, whatever it is."

In an ideal world, Simmons would figure out how to shoot. Expecting him to do so seven seasons into his NBA career is optimistic. Soon, after much delay, one of NBA's most fascinating experiments will play out when Simmons takes the court alongside Irving and Durant.