Ben Simmons believes he has an important role on the Brooklyn Nets ahead of Wednesday's season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans.
"If I'm not aggressive, this team's not going...you know?" Simmons told reporters Wednesday. "Like if I'm not pushing the ball, if I'm not finding my guys, if I'm not getting to the rim, then those easy shots that we get now are not going to happen. So I got to be the motor."
Simmons joined the Nets last season in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, but a back injury prevented him from playing a game with the team. Brooklyn didn't go far without him, earning the No. 7 seed in the East before getting swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics.
Tempered expectations surround Simmons after a lost season, but the 2016 No. 1 overall pick has earned three All-Star selections in four healthy seasons and made the All-Defensive First Team twice.
On the offensive end, Simmons is at his best pushing fast breaks and finding open teammates. He has averaged 7.7 assists per game during his career, ranking in the top 10 in three seasons.
Though the Nets have a proven point guard in Kyrie Irving, Simmons understands his value and will seemingly have the ball in his hands a lot in Brooklyn.
The two have lined up next two each other in the backcourt during the preseason, and Simmons led or tied for the team lead in assists in each game. He had 10 assists in 28 minutes during last week's win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Irving and Kevin Durant should remain the Nets' go-to scorers, but Simmons will have a significant role in 2022-23.