Ben Simmons Inactivity Wearing Thin On Teammates | Will He Return For Playoffs?

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-in tournament on Tuesday, and if they advance they will be the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

That would mean they would play the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. There is optimism that Ben Simmons might be available at some point during that series, if his ramp up of activities continues to progress.

Simmons has been unavailable since being acquired by Brooklyn from Philadelphia in the James Harden trade. A herniated disk in Simmons’ back has caused some nerve pain. He has since received an epidural injection and has progressed to 1-on-0 work.

 

According to recent reports, Simmons’ new teammates are getting fed up with his inactivity and inability to commit to a direction concerning his career.

Video of Simmons on court during warmups before the Nets’ home game on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers started circulating, and it is the most activity he has done.

Nets head coach Steve Nash said he still has several hurdles to clear but Simmons is moving in the right direction.

“He’s doing a little bit of movement, still 1-on-0 stuff. He’s still got a lot of milestones to reach, but it’s positive,” Nash said. “He’s moving around a little bit. I think he looks really positive, happy, encouraged. He’s just working away at his rehab.”

The 25-year-old 6-foot-10 guard still needs to progress to 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, and eventually full court without incident for any kind of realistic timeline to be put in place. The early part of the potential Celtics series is out, though it would behoove the Nets to win Tuesday night’s play-in and wrap up that No. 7 seed. That would give them three days off before starting the playoffs.

If Simmons is able to return at the midpoint or tail end of a potential playoff series, depending on its length, he would add elements the Nets are sorely lacking.

The Nets are a small team outside of Kevin Durant, Nic Claxton, Andre Drummond, and Kessler Edwards. Drummond is a big you don’t want switching on guards or wings on the perimeter. Claxton is better and can switch one through five, but he is a finisher on offense and is very limited with the ball in his hands.

The presence of Simmons gives the Nets size and someone that can switch one through five on defense. On offense he is not a shooter, and that is widely known. However he is an excellent primary ball-handler and playmaker. That can relieve pressure from Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“The bottom line is we’d be adding a substantial talent to our team, so we really welcome him,” Nash said. “He fits and he helps in a number of ways. We’re in need of help, so we would welcome that challenge of trying to incorporate him in a playoff situation where he has no history with our team. No minutes on the floor with his teammates and see how we can forge that understanding as quickly as possible.”

Nash and the coaching staff could get creative with some sets and play Simmons at the five and surround him with shooters in Durant, Irving, Edwards, and Bruce Brown. KD and Kyrie are elite shooters, and Edwards and Brown shot 47 and 41 percent, respectively, from three in March.

In all likelihood, this team’s true potential won’t be realized until next season. Even if Simmons progresses with no setbacks, jumping into the highest leverage and intensity games after not playing for almost an entire year is a lot to ask.

But if the team can get even 10-15 minutes a game from Simmons it should pay off in the long run.