NEW YORK — After playing just 13 minutes — his second-lowest total of the season — Brooklyn Nets forward Ben Simmons was in Monday night’s 124-106 loss to crosstown rivals the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden of the Bench coach Jacque Vaughn admitted it will be difficult to find ways to buy Simmons more minutes without star power from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sapping him on defense.
“There’s going to be some work that we have to do,” Vaughn said. “Because you’re just looking at what the lineups could possibly look like. You put another big one next to Ben and then have to figure out what the distance is around him. If you then put another playmaker next to him, then you have to find out what Ben looks like without the basketball. Then when you go small with Ben, then you have to find out if you can bounce enough with him?
“So the challenges are ahead of us. We will look at them directly. We’ll find out. We have the staff to figure it out, allowing Him to have a group and run with a group, we’ll figure that part out, but you see the challenges ahead.
Simmons, who joined Brooklyn just over a year ago as part of the trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, played 16 minutes in Saturday’s loss to the 76ers — the first game the Nets played their full after sending number of players had Irving to the Dallas Mavericks and Durant to the Phoenix Suns ahead of Thursday’s close – ahead of the 13 minutes he played Monday night.
In both games, he sat in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter — as in his first game against former co-star Joel Embiid in Philadelphia last month.
Simmons, who did not speak to reporters Monday, finished the game with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists against the Knicks and only made two shot attempts.
Vaughn added that on a night when the Nets struggled to keep up with the Knicks, who were led in his second game for New with 40 points by Jalen Brunson and a season-high 27 by Josh Hart, Vaughn added that he was looking for ways to for ways to generate additional offense York following last week’s trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. Vaughn pointed to the fact that Nic Claxton only played 23 minutes as a sign it wasn’t just about Simmons.
“With Brunson being out there trying to throw different bodies with him,” Vaughn said. “We always worry [rebounding], so didn’t want Ben to be the lonely big guy out there. We tried it with another big; I didn’t like that rhythm of play because we didn’t score enough goals back then. Lots of different problems to come your way over the course of a game; you’re trying to understand.”
That includes figuring out how best to use Simmons, who has been a three-time All-Star and third-team All-NBA pick in the past but is averaging 7.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.3 assists scored per game.
“I think overall and tonight we want to give every player everything, every gram that they have, in every single game,” Vaughn said when asked if he needs to watch something from Simmons to get more minutes . “All 16 guys are in this bucket. I’m trying to figure out what lineup suits Ben, what position suits Ben, how we can make him look good at every opportunity. That is the goal. I’m still trying to figure that out. I have to find out. But I think overall we’re going to try different lineups as a team to find out.”
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/35655987/nets-trying-figure-ben-simmons-usage-kd-kyrie Nets trying to figure out Ben Simmons usage without KD, Kyrie