When the Brooklyn Nets sent 10-time All-Star James Harden to Philadelphia in exchange for 76ers superstar Ben Simmons, they knew that the 3-time All-Star would not be available immediately. Simmons has not played in an NBA game since last year’s playoffs. Before he returns to the court, the former number one overall pick will need a ramp-up period. But the Nets received a somber update on their newly-acquired star forward last week. During his recovery, Simmons suffered a setback with what Nets general manager Sean Marks refers to as stiffness in his back, delaying his comeback effort even further
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Ben Simmons Fuels Brooklyn Nets Return in Viral Video
Simmon’s unavailability was viewed as a minor setback, especially with the return of 12-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant to the lineup. But the Nets are 0-2 since KD’s return and have fallen to 9th place in the Eastern Conference. They are also only two games ahead of the 11th place Washington Wizards and in legitimate danger of falling out of the play-in tournament. The urgency to get Simmons back on the floor has increased rapidly. Though he suffered a setback, Simmons has gotten some work in on the court. He was seen getting some shots up during a recent Nets practice in a new viral video posted by Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News, fueling speculation that his debut for Brooklyn could be on the horizon.
Patty Mills Gives Ben Simmons High Praise
The Nets can fill it up on offense with Durant and Kyrie Irving leading the charge. But on defense is where Simmons really fills a void. He finished second place in last year’s Defensive Player of the Year award voting, and Brooklyn has given up at least 120 points to opponents in 4 of their last 6 contests. Although offense may not be Simmons’ calling card, Nets guard Patty Mills feels that the former Sixers star can be a threat in more ways than one.
“He’s going to be a threat either way,” Mills told reporters after a recent practice per NetsDaily. “On the ball, off-ball — whether he’s handling the ball, whether he’s off the ball as a screener, I think he’s such a threat that he’s going to draw a lot of attention. So, I think given his IQ and the way he can pass the ball and handle the ball, that makes us better at his bare minimum.
Last season Simmons averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game. With his capabilities, Simmons could alleviate a lot of the offensive responsibilities of Durant and Irving which would allow them to play off of the ball. He is already offering his input to the team about where he fits as he prepares for a return.
“We were doing a lot of talking, a lot of conversations — meaning the group — a lot of film, a lot of walkthrough stuff. So, he’s there for all of it, he’s there for the entire practice. And then he’s doing his part with his shooting coach and physio and whatever that looks like. But as far as every team thing goes, he’s at everything,” Mills continued.
“(He can) see how he can easily slide into this thing, and then see where he can fit in and find his spots and be able to make an impact on both ends of the floor. So, the game, game time has been really crucial, having him on the bench and just hearing his perspective.”
Time is running out for the Nets to turn the ship around as them missing the postseason could become a reality if they don’t start putting together some wins soon. They will have a chance to get back on the board in their next game against the Charlotte Hornets.