Ben Simmons Makes His Brooklyn Nets’ Debut

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Ben Simmons finally made his long-awaited debut for the Nets last night in Brooklyn against his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Simmons, who hasn’t played since the 2021 playoffs, had six points, four rebounds, and five assists in a 127 to 108 loss to Philly.

His first points as a Net came on a fastbreak dunk off an assist by Kyrie Irving.

“It feels so good to be back. I’m just blessed and grateful to be back on the floor playing with these guys. So, I’m happy,” said Simmons in an interview after the game.

“Overall, it was solid. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially defensively. It’s a whole new team, but there’s a lot of upside too,” said Simmons.

Simmons shot 50 percent from the field on six shots in a little over 19 minutes of play.

It was the first time Simmons, Irving, and Kevin Durant have played together.

The Sixers Tyrese Maxey led all scorers with 20 points.

It’s been a long journey from when Simmon was traded by the Sixers to actually suiting up for the Nets.

The 26-year-old was initially cleared to play last April in Game 2 against the Celtics, but never suited up.

“I wouldn’t be able to say anything about that because I’m not even sure how he’s going to get through these weeks,” Nash said, via ESPN last April. “We have to also consider it’s a nine-month absence or whatever it is, so it’s not just like he had a six-week absence, so I think this is a pretty unique scenario. It’s not as linear as maybe the other kind of in-season injuries.”

Simmons is entering his seventh year in the league averaging 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game, but has only played four seasons so far, sitting out his rookie year with a foot injury.

NBA GMs Project Bucks, Warriors, and Clippers as Title Favorites

NBA general managers are projecting the Milwaukee Bucks, Golden State Warriors, and Los Angeles Clippers as title favorites for the 2022-23 season, per the NBA App GM Survey.

The Bucks received 43% of the vote; franchise superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was also voted the best power-forward in the league and the player GMs would most want to build a franchise around.

The defending-champion Warriors received 25% of the vote and were deemed the “most fun” team to watch.

The Clippers received 21% of the vote and were unsurprisingly voted to be the “most improved” over last season.

The Boston Celtics fell to fourth-place with just 11% of the vote; but were voted the “best defensive team” in the league.

It goes without saying that things probably won’t shake out as we expect – but it’s fair for the Bucks to be considered the favorite, so long as they stay healthy.

Blake Griffin Was Surprised By Boston Celtics Locker Room Atmosphere

Blake Griffin has spent 13 NBA seasons with three different teams and has just about seen it all.

But the Boston Celtics managed to take him aback Sunday after he joined the team.

The veteran forward, who officially signed a one-year contract with the Celtics on Monday, admitted his new teammates made a very strong first impression on him Sunday when he visited TD Garden ahead of Boston’s preseason opener against the Charlotte Hornets.

“I’ve talked to pretty much everybody,” Griffin told reporters Monday. “I was talking to some guys (Sunday). … I’m actually very — not surprised, but the amount of maturity and welcomingness (that the Celtics’ players showed) … it’s a different atmosphere than I was sort of used to, in a good way.

“They were very welcoming: everybody, one through 15. Practice today was focused, very encouraging, helpful. I think you kind of take that for granted because it’s not always the case everywhere you go.”

Griffin’s comments are a strong testament to Boston’s locker room makeup.

The C’s have a relatively young team, but the nucleus of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams have been together for several years now and have made great strides in the leadership department.

Boston’s chemistry and cohesiveness were a big reason why the team reached the 2022 NBA Finals and likely played a role in Brad Stevens’ decision not to trade for Kevin Durant this summer and disrupt what this group has going for it.

Blake Griffin spent the 2021-22 season with Durant, Kyrie Irving, and that dysfunctional Brooklyn Nets team, so the bar might be low for him in terms of having supportive teammates.

Still, Celtics fans should be encouraged to hear this kind of praise from a player who has been in the league for over a decade.

The 33-year-old could make his C’s debut this Wednesday in Boston’s second preseason game against the Toronto Raptors.

Adelaide 36ers Beat Phoenix Suns in Pre-Season Opener

The Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League beat the Phoenix Suns 134-124 in their pre-season opener.

Craig Randall and Robert Franks led the way for the 36ers, scoring 35 and 32 points respectively.

Mitch McCarron had an insane stat-line of four points, nine rebounds, 16 assists, and three steals.

On the Phoenix side, the starters played well in limited minutes.

DeAndre Ayton and Mikal Bridges had 22 points in 22 minutes each.

Chris Paul had six points and 12 assists.

Jock Londale of the Suns – an Australian native – had 12 points and six rebounds.

It should be noted that the this was a pre-season game, and that the NBL is generally regarded as one of the best basketball leagues in the world.

Still, it’s a bit embarrassing for the Suns to come out so soft, especially after a disappointing season-end; and awkward media day where Ayton said he hadn’t spoken to head-coach Monty Williams since being eliminated from title contention.

The Suns will take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday (10/5) at 10:00pm EST.

Larry Nance Jr. and Pelicans Agree to 2-Year, $21.6 Million Extension

Forward Larry Nance Jr. and the New Orleans Pelicans agreed to a two-year, $21.6 million extension, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Nance Jr. was entering the final year of a four-year, $48 million contract, but the extension will keep him in New Orleans through the 2024-25 season.

“I’m finally healthy,” Nance Jr. said on Pelicans Media Day last week. “I played the end of the season still recovering from the surgery. The meniscus surgery I had, I didn’t realize how long that had been bothering me. I had lost a step, lost a little bit of balance, and all that came back in the summer. I feel good. I feel better than I have the last few years.”

The 29-year-old averaged 7.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 0.9 assists for the Pels after being traded from the Portland Trail Blazers along with CJ McCollum and Tony Snell for Josh Hart, Thomas Satoransky, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

The Pels have locked in all their core players, McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Zion Williamson, to long-term deals.

“In the seven months I’ve been here, I’ve seen a community that is going to rock with this team. If we show love for the city and provide some excitement, the fans will give us that back tenfold,” said Nance Jr.

Nance Jr. excelled in the Pels small ball lineup off the bench and is excited about the upcoming season.

“I’ve gotta put on some padding to deal with this beating I’m gonna take in training camp,” Nance Jr. joked about playing against Williamson. “No one wants to see him exceed more than I do.”

Williamson sat out all last season with injury and has only played in 85 games since being drafted by the Pels in 2019.

Nance Jr. is entering his eighth year in the league, with career averages of 8.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists.

Grizzlies, Steven Adams Agree to Two-Year Contract Extension

The Memphis Grizzlies and center Steven Adams have agreed to a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension, per a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Adams, 29, averaged 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 76 games for the Grizzlies last season.

The New Zealand big-man is now under contract with the Grizzles through the 2024-25 NBA season.

Adams is one of the elite enforcers in the NBA; having consistently demonstrated the ability to dominate similarly-sized centers through sheer strength.

Through nine seasons in the NBA, Adams ahas averaged 9.3 points and 8.0 rebounds.

The Grizzlies finished last season with a remarkable 56-26 record; however the Grit n’ Grind did not, and still do not, have much front-court depth.

Xavier Tillman and Brandon Clarke will surely fit into the rotation in some capacity – but Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. will have to do the heavy lifting in the interior.

It’s likely, probable even, that Grizzlies’ head-coach Taylor Jenkins will opt for small-ball lineups down crucial stretches of the season.

6-Time All-Star Blake Griffin Joins Celtics

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin will sign a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The veteran’s signing comes after the Celtics lost Robert Williams III and Danilo Gallinari to injuries.

The deal is worth a reported veteran minimum of $2.7 million.

The 33-year-old Griffin spent last season with the Brooklyn Nets averaging 6.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game.

After sitting out his rookie season with a knee injury, Blake’s career took off with the Lob City Los Angeles Clippers, nailing thunderous dunks off of assists from Chris Paul.

He won the 2011 Slam Dunk contest and Rookie of the Year and seemed he was on his way to superstar status.

After seven seasons playing with the Clippers, in which the team never went as far as they were expected in the playoffs, Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons.

He would have a brief Renaissance in the 2018-19 season when he made the All-Star team and averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists for the Pistons.

But Griffin’s style of play exacerbated his knee issues, forcing him to get multiple surgeries on both knees in 2019 and 2020.

The Pistons couldn’t trade Griffin with his contract and eventually bought out the $75 million remaining on his deal.

He signed consecutive veteran minimum contracts to play with a revamped Brooklyn team featuring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Brooklyn was expected to play for the title, and Griffin was part of their 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals run, but that is as far as the team has come to the title.

Griffin is expected to bring some needed veteran presence to the young Celtics squad that made it all the way to the Finals last season and was expected to be a contender again this season.

However, recent controversy with the Celtics’ head coach and injuries to Williams and Gallinari have put the start of Boston’s season in less than ideal conditions.