It's been over five months since Ben Simmons last appeared in an NBA game. After sitting out the entire 2021-22 season before undergoing surgery on a bulging disk last summer, Simmons struggled to regain his form with the Brooklyn Nets while battling a litany of injuries in 2022-23.
The former number-one pick appeared in 42 games, averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists. Simmons missed three extended periods during the first half of the season before being sidelined by a knee injury during the All-Star break and later shut down due to a nerve impingement in his back. The Aussie has spent most of the offseason progressing through a rehab program in Miami.
Simmons is on track to be 100 percent ahead of training camp; a source told ESPN's Marc J. Spears.
“I talked to somebody close to Simmons,” Spears said. “They would say, ‘I would say he's in the final stage of prep for the season, and he has passed every benchmark and is as healthy as he has ever been since his last year in Philly.’”
Nets general manager Sean Marks provided an update on Simmons at Summer League, saying the three-time All-Star had not yet played three-on-three or five-on-five. Simmons also announced he would not suit up for Australia in the FIBA World Cup, which Marks called a joint decision between the 26-year-old and the Nets.
However, Marks said the three-time All-Star was in “great physical and mental shape” and “would be ready to go hopefully very soon.” The GM also detailed his high hopes for Simmons in 2023-24, saying the hope is he returns to the All-Star level of play of his Philadelphia days.
Spears' source relayed a similar sentiment while providing an update on Brooklyn's positional plan for Simmons this season.
“Brooklyn has been incredibly supportive and the plan is for him to be the Nets' point guard and primary ball-handler this upcoming season,” the source told Spears. “The expectation is he will fully resume his career at the level he has prior to leaving Philadelphia.”
"I talked to somebody close to [Ben Simmons]… They would say, 'I would say he's in the final stage of prep for the season and he has passed every benchmark and is as healthy as he has ever been since his last year in Philly.'"
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) July 26, 2023
Following the departure of Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn is thin at point guard, with Spencer Dinwiddie and minimum signing Dennis Smith Jr. the only other options at the position.
While Simmons has proven his offensive value as a facilitator throughout his career, his fit alongside a non-shooting center in Nic Claxton raised concerns for the Nets at points last season. This led to him playing a point-center role for extended periods, where he served as a primary ball-handler in transition but a screener and short-roll playmaker in the halfcourt.
With less than two months until training camp, Simmons appears to be trending in the right direction. The 6-foot-10 ball-handler is Brooklyn's highest-paid player with two years and $78 million remaining on his contract. If healthy, he'll join a Nets core predominately in the same age range with Mikal Bridges (26), Cam Johnson (27), Nic Claxton (24), and Dinwiddie (30) headlining the roster.