NBA

Nets coach Vaughn needs to 'figure out' best use of Simmons after Irving and Durant departures

By Sports Desk February 14, 2023

Brooklyn Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said he will need to figure out how to get the best out of Ben Simmons in the wake of losing star duo Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Irving and Durant left the Nets for the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns respectively before the trade deadline, leaving Brooklyn shorn of two players who often took opposition attention away from Simmons.

The Australian played less than 13 minutes of Monday's 124-106 loss at the New York Knicks, having only once played for a shorter period in a game this season.

"It's going to be some work that we have to do," Vaughn said after the defeat at Madison Square Garden. "Because you just take a look at what the lineups could potentially look like.

"You put another big next to Ben, then you got to figure out what the spacing is around him. Then if you put another playmaker next to him, then you got to figure out what Ben looks like without the basketball. Then if you go small with Ben, then you have to figure out can you rebound enough with him?

"So, the challenges are ahead of us. We'll look them head-on. We'll figure it out. We have the personnel to figure it out. Whether it is me mixing and matching throughout different pieces of the game, and allowing him to have a group and run with a group, that part we'll figure out, but you see the challenges that lie ahead."

 

Spencer Dinwiddie, who was acquired as part of the trade for Irving, top-scored for the Nets with 28, though he was no match for another former Dallas player in Jalen Brunson, who scored 40, making 15 from 21 field-goal attempts and six from nine three-point shots, and Vaughn said Brunson's performance was a factor in his thinking around Simmons.

"With Brunson being out there, trying to throw different bodies with him," he said. "We're always concerned about [rebounding], so didn't want Ben to be the lone big out there.

"We tried him with another big; I didn't like that rhythm of the game because we weren't scoring enough at that time. A lot of different problems thrown at you in the course of a game; you try to figure them out.

"Trying to figure out what lineup fits around Ben, what position fits for Ben, how we can make him look good at every opportunity. That's the goal. I'm still trying to figure that out. That's on me to figure that out. But I think overall as a team, we're going to try different lineups to try to figure this out."

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