As recently as last week, it didn’t seem like there was much chance Ben Simmons would play this season. But over the last few days things may have shifted.

Multiple reports surfaced on Thursday that Simmons is targeting a late-series return vs. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, momentum for Simmons’ imminent debut with the Brooklyn Nets “has switched dramatically in the last few days.”

If the three time All-Star really might suit up for the playoffs, there are all kinds of burning questions that need answering.

Burning questions for Ben Simmons’ possible return vs. Jayson Tatum, Celtics

3. Is this really happening?

We ballparked some odds that the Nets would win the series against Boston on the latest edition of Nothing But Nets. Co-host Greg Dennis and I actually disagreed on who would emerge victorious in round one between Boston and Brooklyn. We also did our best to assess the chances of Simmons actually making his return during this series.

What do we know so far? Shams Charania of The Athletic said Simmons was feeling better and could return as early as Game 3 of the first round. Windhorst has pointed to somewhere between Games 4 through 6 as the target for Simmons’ possible return. Steve Nash responded to those reports by saying he was unsure of Simmons’ status, noting that he was still practicing alone and would need to progress through a series of “milestones” to work his way up to five-on-five, high-intensity practices.

So maybe it’s not realistic, right? But wait!

So for now, we’re going with one big “maybe,” but Simmons’ return feels more and more likely by the day. Could it be as high as 30, 40, 50 or even 60 percent he’ll suit up at all during round one? It feels like we’re somewhere in that percentage window.

2. Whose minutes would Simmons hypothetically replace?

Here was Brooklyn’s minute allocation for their must-win game against the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers in the first leg of the play-in tournament. Could this reveal a clue when it comes to Simmons’ place in the rotation?

We’ll pencil Ben in for all of Kessler Edwards’ eight minutes and five from Nic Claxton’s total against Cleveland. Curry hasn’t been playing at 100 percent because of his ankle, and if the Nets are getting torched by Tatum, they may like the idea of swapping in some defense for shooting in spurts. Let’s give Simmons five of Curry’s minutes, bringing his hypothetical total to 18 minutes.

Maybe that’s all we’ll see at first.

It’s possible that we’re even projecting too much time being taken from Claxton. Simmons’ court time might be closer to the 10 minutes that Goran Dragic got on Tuesday, his first game after returning from health and safety protocols. On the other hand, if Simmons was helping and said he felt good, he might start eating into some of those backup point guard minutes, too.

Nash made it sound like he was relying on Dragic to step up his game now that he’s back from a COVID bout.

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Before Simmons is ready to roll, it makes sense Nash would afford more than 10 minutes to Dragic. But if The Dragon doesn’t play well, if someone else struggles, if a role player gets hurt or if Drummond or Claxton were to land in in foul trouble, the Nets might look to lean on a guy who was first runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2021.

1. Is it too risky to introduce a fit like Simmons?

The last question is about fit. I’ve seen this idea from Sixers fans all over social media. They argue that Simmons is a very niche and idiosyncratic player who doesn’t shoot, wants to be the point guard and will take the ball out of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s hands. Yeah, he may help defensively, but he’ll really pose continuity issues offensively.

To these concerns, I say meh.

We know that Simmons has been willing to play in the dunker spot to accommodate Joel Embiid. The chances that he would insist on dramatically altering the Nets offense by demanding to play a ball-dominant point guard role he really hasn’t played consistently since the tail end of the 2017-2018 regular season feels farfetched. It seems more likely he’d occupy the type of off-ball role that James Johnson played before being waived: Screening, cutting, short-roll action, offering dribble-hand offs, crashing the glass and looking to spring shooters for buckets. And trying to get whatever he can in transition, of course.

As for spacing, we know that Durant has played for much of this year with combinations of non-shooters both on the perimeter and interior. The idea that introducing another non-shooter to the lineup is going to pose a novel problem doesn’t jibe with what Nets fans witnessed all season long. They’ve had non-floor spacers heavily involved since the season tipped off back in October.

Durant has played 18 minutes per game this season with both Drummond and Brown on the floor at the same time. Brown has improved as a spot-up shooter, especially lately, but he still doesn’t provide gravity. Teams leave Brown open away from the ball in order to shade Durant.

Deploying Simmons in the dunker spot would not allow teams to leave him open much. If they did,  KD, who’s been playing PG from PG County, could hit him for open dunks. Having KD on the floor has been tough for defenses to stop all season long. Irving, remember, was only available for 17 games alongside Durant.

But the Nets did okay, didn’t they?

Implementing a big who also happens to be the Nets most talented, creative passer doesn’t seem likely to make life much harder on Durant and Irving. If Simmons is helping the team get stops, it will only lead to more transition basketball and that’s when this team has truly thrived.

Finally, the road ahead is daunting. The Nets are not favored to beat the Celtics in Game 1, let alone the series at large. Winning the opener would be an upset. Winning this series, and then perhaps upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks in round two, before tackling one of the Miami Heat or Sixers on the road, all just to make NBA Finals? Now that’s an uphill battle.

The Nets are +650 to win the NBA Championship with FanDuel, but only 5.2% of bets have been placed on them to win the title, according to OddsChecker. If they continue on their current path, they’ll need to hit absolute Yahtzee—and that’s possible. But if Simmons were somehow able to play at even 75 percent of his full ability defensively, it could flip their title odds altogether.

Fortune favors the bold. So if Simmons is medically cleared, it makes sense to roll the dice on the Aussie playmaker.