Conflicting Reports On Ben Simmons’ Return To The Court | How Close Is He To Actually Returning?

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons has yet to suit up and play an actual game since he was acquired on Feb. 10. The three-time All-Star is dealing with a herniated disk in his back, and while the Nets are hopeful he can play at some point, there is no clear timeline. The Athletic’s Joe Vardon is reporting that Simmons is “not close,” while Shams Charania is reporting that Simmons has begun light on-court work. So what’s the deal?

The truth is there is no clear timeline that has been made public on a potential return. This is less about Vardon and Shams’ reporting, though the latter is far more plugged in than the former, and more to do with the Nets’ history of sharing information about injuries.

Nets general manager Sean Marks received his executive training as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. That notoriously tight-lipped organization is known for limiting the information it shared with the media.

This is neither a good or bad thing, just the facts.

The Nets do not give timetables on players and their rehab regimens. If any specific piece of information gets out it’s likely because they want it to.

So if you’re a Nets fan, all you can do is pray to the basketball gods that Simmons returns at some point for the Nets to benefit from his services this postseason.

The other obvious reality here is that the injury he’s dealing with is a tricky one. Backs are a part of the body that can cause major issues if not properly healed. Simmons is 25 years old and under contract for three more seasons.

He is a future cornerstone of this franchise along with Kevin Durant and potentially Kyrie Irving if he signs an extension this summer.

Marks and the Nets have to balance the short-term (this season) with the future, while also considering the ages and injury histories of Durant and Irving. No easy task.

Whenever he returns the Nets will welcome him back with open arms. All of the areas this team is deficient in are Simmons’ strengths.

The Nets lack size on the wing and rebounding. Simmons is 6 feet 10 and in the 80th percentile in terms of rebound rate. The team is devoid of plus-defenders in a switch heavy system. He is a two-time All-Defensive team member that can switch one through five.

With Durant, Irving and Seth Curry the Nets have good spacing but lack a dynamic primary ball-handler that can take advantage of the two main stars’ off-ball exploits.

Simmons averages a shade under eight assists per game for his career, with an assist rate of 34.5 percent.

No doubt head coach Steve Nash and the Nets are salivating at what this team would look like with Simmons on the floor.

Yes, there is the big hole in his game. The unwillingness to shoot. On this team he won’t be asked to shoot like he was in Philadelphia.

Between Durant, Irving, Curry, Bruce Brown, Patty Mills, and Goran Dragic, there is enough shooting to go around.

Imagine a small-ball lineup of Simmons, Durant, Irving, Curry and Brown. Durant and Simmons run a pick and roll, the defense goes to trap Durant because they’re not worried about Simmons. Durant gets the ball to Simmons, who is now driving downhill in a 4-on-3 situation with shooters spaced. It’s either a wide-open dunk or a wide-open 3-pointer.

That’s just one simple action. There is so much more Simmons could unlock for the Nets. The question is will Nets fans get to see it this season. Only the team knows that for sure.