Simmons exited during the second quarter of Brooklyn's win over the Orlando Magic on Monday and was ruled out with what was called left knee soreness. Head coach Jacque Vaughn said Wednesday that Simmons was grabbing the back of his knee before the performance team identified his calf as the injured area. The three-time All-Star missed four games with soreness and swelling in the same knee earlier this season.
Simmons had played his best basketball of the season in recent weeks, averaging 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists on 42-of-53 (79.2 percent) shooting in eight appearances prior to Monday. The Aussie struggled early against Orlando, missing his first three shots before leaving for the locker room.
The former number one pick's active defense, rebounding and passing had provided a huge lift for the Nets over the recent stretch. Simmons' absence looms large for a Brooklyn team already short on perimeter defenders and rebounders with Yuta Watanabe sidelined with a strained hamstring.
Ben Simmons and Yuta Watanabe have shown some really nice chemistry in transition dating back to the preseason.
They were rolling in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/6MrzFDmMH1
— Erik Slater (@erikslater_) November 21, 2022
The team also provided an update on Watanabe, who will miss at least the next week after imaging on his hamstring “remained consistent” with prior tests. The forward has missed Brooklyn’s last five games with the injury.
Watanabe is leading the league in three-point percentage (57.1) after signing a non-guaranteed contract this summer. The three-and-D wing was among the Nets' top contributors amid recent success, averaging 11.6 points and 4.0 rebounds on 61.8 percent shooting during eight games in November.
The Japanese product's timely shotmaking propelled Brooklyn to back-to-back wins last week. Watanabe scored nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from three in the fourth quarter against Portland and 12 points on 4-of-5 from deep in the final frame against Memphis.
The Nets have won five of their last seven games. Brooklyn will look to climb over .500 for the first time this season as they continue a seven-game homestand against Washington Wednesday.