Ben Simmons showed flashes of greatness through his first four seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, but a sharp downturn may now make it impossible for him to get back on that same track, an insider shared.
The Brooklyn Nets announced this week that they were shutting down Simmons for the rest of the season and starting rehab for a nerve issue in his back and knee issues. Nets head coach Jacques Vaughn said the team believes he can still make a full recovery and wants to give him the chance to start healing and recovering now.
“Ben will not be joining us the rest of the year and through the playoffs,” Vaughn said, via ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “After consulting with our doctors, multiple specialists, he’s just going to begin a rehab program. Our doctors and the specialists feel and think that he’ll have a full recovery so that starts now.”
While he may return to the court, The Athletic’s Zach Harper believes Simmons may never be able to fully recover the potential he once showed.
‘Too Late’ for Ben Simmons to Turn Career Around?
Harper wrote that it feels like a “decade ago” that Simmons was a dominant player for the Sixers, as injuries and inconsistent play have brought his career down a rocky path. Facing a long rehab ahead before he hits the floor again, Harper wrote that Simmons could now be headed to a dead end.
“Nothing gets fixed without Simmons’ initiative and brilliant athleticism clearing hurdles for his return to form,” Harper wrote. “Screw shooting a basketball. Simmons should be an offensive battering ram getting opponents in foul trouble, but he finished his season ranked outside the top 250 in free-throw attempts. The 2018 Rookie of the Year can still be a great player, but maybe it’s too late. Maybe that bubble has burst.”
Harper added that Simmons theoretically should have a similar impact to Golden State Warriors big man Draymond Green, who is one of the league’s sharpest defensive players and a selfless facilitator on the offensive end. But he wrote that Simmons “seems to lack the competitiveness he used to achieve his aforementioned accolades.”
Nets Still Hopeful for Ben Simmons
The Nets still see potential in Simmons. Vaughn said this week that he still has the size and ability to be a strong two-way player.
“And overall you just think about, he’s 6-10, athletic, what he can do and bring to our team, how he can help our group on both ends of the floor,” Vaughn said, via ESPN. “We want to be involved in that.”
Nets general manager Sean Marks also reiterated that the team would continue to support Simmons through his rehab and eventual return to the court.
“Same thing we’ve done in the past, is support him,” Marks told ESPN. “This is a young man that has been through a very traumatic and pretty arduous last couple years here. And this is not news that he wants to hear. He didn’t want specialists telling him, ‘Hey look, here’s the best thing for you.’ The good news, they were in unison in their plan for a full recovery. I worked hard with these doctors, all the different specialists as well as Bernie Lee, his new agent, to come up with a plan that’s hopefully going to get him back, and back to being the Ben we’ve all seen.”
Simmons had a career-worst season with the Brooklyn Nets this year, averaging 6.9 points, 6.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game.