Ben Simmons is back - but is he BACK?
With his body finally cooperating and his confidence sky-high, could Ben Simmons get back to his best with the Brooklyn Nets this season?
The Ben Simmons redemption arc has quickly become an annual tradition in the NBA offseason. Even when he was playing at a high level in Philadelphia, videos of the Aussie phenom knocking down jump shots would leave fans convinced that he was becoming a three-point sniper; in the years since, through his battles with injuries and long absences, it’s been a return to that All-Star level of play that has been teased through workout videos and insider whispers.
Of course, that always turned out to be a flash in the pan. The former number one draft pick remained a non-shooter with the Philadelphia 76ers, and he has struggled to even get on the court over the last two seasons. It’s “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” for the modern NBA fan, with Twitter aggregators and anonymous fan accounts working themselves into a frenzy, before being let down once the season begins. After sitting out the entirety of the 2021-22 season while still on the Sixers, he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets ahead of last season and played just 42 games, missing time with knee and calf ailments before a back issue ruled him out for the season, and looking like a shell of his former self when on the court.
Over the past few months, as NBA preseason approached, the cycle started once again. It didn’t take long for the rumour mill to begin churning, with whispers that Simmons was edging closer to full health and readying himself for a big season. Naturally, plenty were sceptical, especially those in Australia – after all, Simmons once again gave up a chance to represent the country at this year’s FIBA World Cup, with Basketball Australia citing the need for “more time to focus on his rehab”.
Now, the boy is crying wolf for the umpteenth time. The difference is, this time it could be more than just a false alarm.
Need some proof?
Those back-to-back spectacular plays came late in Wednesday’s clash with Philadelphia, which was just another in a string of promising outings from Simmons. Averaging 6.5 points, seven assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game across the Nets’ four preseason games, he has shown plenty of promising flashes as a passer, rebounder, defender, and scorer. It’s a huge step forward for the three-time All-Star, with his most fruitful preseason in some time suggesting a true renaissance could finally be on the cards.