Ben Simmons is healthy, looks good in workouts at the Nets facility, and the former All-Star is ready for a bounce-back year in Brooklyn.
Dear reader, I feel you rolling your eyes after reading that sentence, feeling you have seen that movie before. Simmons is coming off a season where he played in 42 games due to knee and back issues, averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists a game (all career lows). While there were flashes of his former All-Star self, his unwillingness to shoot a jump shot — 89.4% of his shots came within 10 feet of the rim — made him easy to defend.
Still, it’s July and the reports of Simmons being ready to bounce back are popping up all over. There was the well-connected Marc Spears of ESPN on “NBA Today” Wednesday:
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. Brooklyn has been incredibly supportive and the plan is for him to be the Nets’ point guard and primary ballhandler this coming season. The expectation is he will fully resume his career at the level he has [played at] prior to leaving Philadelphia.
There are workout posts on Instagram, an offseason tradition unlike any other.
There also is the Nets’ Mikal Bridges appearing on Podcast P with Paul George and saying he and his teammates have Simmons’ back.
“Ben’s my guy. I got big confidence, I got big faith in my boy this year. His back was messed up. Now that he got surgery, he’s getting back…
“He loves the game, bro. I think he’s in a good place. He f**** with all of us, like we’re close. He’s the one talking in the chat all the time and we all f*** with him. And obviously, yeah, we want him to score and stuff, but we ain’t pressed about it. We just want him to be him and be aggressive.”
I’m going Missouri on this — show me. I’m rooting for Simmons to find the space that makes him happy and get back to having a positive impact on games on the court, but no amount of words or offseason workout videos will convince me it’s likely to happen. I need to see it. On the court, in real NBA games.
The retooling Nets are a hard team to predict next season. Can Bridges and Cameron Johnson continue the steps forward they showed last season (particularly after the trade from the Suns to the Nets)? Is Nic Claxton ready to be a top-flight defensive anchor who can help on offense? Where do Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith fit in?
And then there is Simmons. He could have a real impact, but we’ll need to see it — and see him stay healthy — to fully buy-in.