Reports that Ben Simmons could return during first round of playoffs
So to be clear: The plan is to take a guy who has not played one second this season, a guy with an offensive game that is not plug-and-play (and does not space the floor), and a guy who struggled with pressure during last season’s playoffs, and throw him cold into the most physical, intense and high-pressure games of the season?
Apparently it’s under consideration in Brooklyn. Refuting reports hinting Ben Simmons would not be back this postseason, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that Simmons is improving from his back issue and could return toward the end of the first round of the playoffs in a limited role (10-15 minutes a night).
Shams Charania of The Athletic echoed that in a Tweet.
Sources: There’a optimism Nets star Ben Simmons could make debut during first round of the NBA playoffs as long as his progression continues in strengthening his legs and back. Simmons has been ramping up his workload and is expected to continue doing so.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 10, 2022
Then the Nets released this video of Ben Simmons hitting jumpers over zero defenders in practice.
While on paper Simmons is exactly the kind of player the Nets need — a long, disruptive, elite on-ball defender who also can push the ball in transition and be another shot creator — it’s difficult to imagine he can move the needle much in a limited playoffs role after missing an entire season.
Brooklyn will have to come out of the play-in to make the playoffs, but if they do they will likely face the Celtics, top-seeded Heat or defending champion Bucks. Brooklyn might be a betting favorite in one of those series, but they shouldn’t be (thanks to a 24th ranked defense). How much Simmons can help in those games remains to be seen.
But maybe Simmons will play.