The Nets are falling fast in the standings as they await Ben Simmons‘ return to the NBA court. Team officials say Simmons is nursing a sore lower back, but the Nets need him now to contribute to a playoff run. Kevin Durant is supposed to return on Thursday night from a knee injury that has limited the Top 75 player to 36 games.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) March 2, 2022
That’s the bright side, as the Nets have fallen from top seed in the Eastern Conference to the eighth spot in Durant’s absence.
But the championship squad is still incomplete. Everybody wants to know when Ben 10 will make his Nets debut following the trade for James Harden. He’s considered the final piece for the Nets to make a run at a title.
“I don’t understand,” NBA analyst Jay Williams said on “First Take.” “How come there’s not a timetable on him (Ben Simmons) coming back to play?”
Williams tempered the optimism of Brooklyn Nets fans, by reminding them of Kyrie’s situation, what they lost in The Beard, the uncertainty of Simmons’ availability and KD’s unpredictable physical state. What was projected to be a championship season is quickly becoming just a mountain of uncertainty.
“When KD was healthy…Brooklyn had the No. 1 team in the conference,” said JWill. “They were also the best team because they had James Harden on that team, who was giving them such a lethal scoring punch in games that Kyrie couldn’t play. I’m really worried about my Nets squad right now.”
Williams went on to voice his concerns about the Nets’ ability to generate offense and KD’s capacity to carry the team coming off an injury, especially with Kyrie unable to play home games.
“Now when you (play) home games, you’re asking KD (to be great) coming off the Achilles injury he had a couple of years ago. The knee issues now, to come back…This is where you need Ben Simmons more than ever. And I’m worried about what Ben Simmons am I going to get – if I’m going to get Ben Simmons. The Nets lose that scoring punch they had with James Harden and now Ben Simmons comes back and plays in particular at home games where Kyrie can’t (carry the scoring load)”
Williams says he understands the issues that Simmons was going through that forced his trade out of Philly, but he also added:
“It seems like the environment has changed, and if there’s any time that Ben Simmons needs to answer the call it’s coming up in these next couple of weeks.”
Williams is right. Brooklyn “needs him more than ever in order to help KD elevate.”
“You can’t have KD, coming off his injury guarding the other team’s best player,”
Williams told his co-host Stephen A. Smith. “That’s something that Ben Simmons needs to do, because you want KD’s legs to be saved for the offensive punches you need at home. In particular at the Barclays Center.”
Simmons’ absence is a tough situation, especially considering he appears healthy and he’s traveling with the team and sitting on the bench wearing streets clothes, laughing, moving well, high-fiving teammates.
The reality of the situation is that the Nets are 5-16 without KD, including a streak of 11 straight losses. They are an unimpressive 32-31 entering tonight’s matchup with Eastern conference-leading Miami Heat, and Ben Simmons isn’t available for the immediate future.
The saga of Ben Simmons continues, and the Nets can’t win for losing. GM Sean Marks has pulled off some bold moves to acquire elite talent, but extenuating circumstances haven’t allowed any of his power moves to materialize. The Brooklyn Nets are in the same position they were in last season when they came within a Kevin Durant toe of advancing to the Conference Finals without Kyrie or Harden, who’s already doing damage in Philly.
James Harden has already clinched averaging 25 points and 10 assists in his first 3 games with the 76ers, something he also did with the Nets.
The last player to average 25 points and 10 assists in his first 3 games with a franchise was Allen Iverson in 2006 with the Nuggets. pic.twitter.com/5riRhHEzvw
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 3, 2022
Without Ben, it’s all on KD again when they face their toughest challenges on the road.
“You’re looking at KD coming off a knee injury and asking him to be prolific,” a flustered Williams said.
Can you really rely on Ben Simmons? When is he suiting up? Stephen A. Smith says he’s scared to play in Philly on March 10, so he’s waiting until after that game.
“It’s not happening.”
– Woj on Ben Simmons playing in Philly on March 10: pic.twitter.com/RZlrQx0Skj
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) March 2, 2022
The Nets are right back where they started. With as much talent as any team in the league but zero luck. Make it make sense.
More news from our partners: