There has been a lot of change in Brooklyn over the past year on both the roster and the coaching staff. Those changes have us questioning the outlook for the 2023-2024 Brooklyn Nets. With a starting lineup comprised of Ben Simmons, Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Nic Claxton, Brooklyn has the perfect mix of young and veteran talent.
The second unit for Brooklyn features NBA Sixth Man of the Year candidate and pure bucket-getter Cam Thomas, former Dallas top 10 pick Dennis Smith Jr., skilled defenders Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, and 21-year-old center Day’Ron Sharpe, who is primed for a breakout season. Lonnie Walker will also make an impact off the bench, and the Nets have many young players, including Jalen Wilson, Noah Clowney, Dariq Whitehead, Darius Bazley, and Harry Giles, who will also factor in.
This is undoubtedly a talented roster, but Is Brooklyn a championship contender right now? Probably not.
Can the Nets make the playoffs and shock someone in a playoff series? I don’t see why not. One Brooklyn Net has even higher expectations for the team this season.
Ben Simmons says the Nets can “shock a lot of people this year”
In a recent sitdown with Esquire Australia, Simmons laid out lofty expectations to author Christopher Riley for his team and himself.
"“We have a great opportunity to start from scratch and build a team that can shock a lot of people,” Simmons told the magazine. “And then individually, I want to be back where I was. I want to be an All Star. I want to be better than an All Star. That’s where I want to be. I never try to live with myself. I’m never like, Well, hopefully, maybe I get a couple votes in an All-Star game. Nah, if that’s the case, I might as well be fishing.”"
Simmons’s mindset is accurate; The Nets are certainly starting from scratch. Seven of Brooklyn’s 11 expected rotation pieces were not on the team when 2023 began. The most important note from Simmons’s comments is that his confidence and eagerness to play basketball are back. Many questioned just how much Simmons has faith in his ability and if he genuinely loves the game of basketball, but he seems to have put both those questions to bed.
Simmons later expanded on this point.
"“I’m very appreciative of the game of basketball because it’s brought me here and given me and my family a lot… The love of the game is always going to be there because that’s where I get to be me; I get to create, I get to be an artist. Besides Call of Duty and other things like that, this is where I get to do my fun stuff. I get to be creative, I get to mess up, I get to do things that other people can’t do. And I think people take that for granted,”"
Simmons noted in the feature that he is both physically and mentally healthy. A healthy Simmons significantly raises the Nets ceiling and could allow them to shock people this season.