“A quick update on Ben Simmons, he’s doing really really well…think he’ll be ready to play if and when we’re given that green light to resume”
That was what Sixers’ general manager Elton Brand had to say regarding Ben Simmons’ health status during a conference call on May 5. Less than two months later, and it seems the team has somewhat flipped their stance on what Simmons’ availability will be for the rest of 2020.
During an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, 76ers’ head coach Brett Brown had this to say about Simmons: “Is he going to be 100%? I don’t expect that. But I think he is going to be available.”
Brown also mentioned that the injury was one of the most “disturbing” that he’s ever seen. Simmons was reportedly lying on the ground and vomiting in pain after experiencing some sort of nerve damage against the Milwaukee Bucks earlier in the season.
Brown would further go on to explain that he expects Simmons to be gradually brought back up to speed. Reduced minutes are in play, as Brown cited the 30-35 minute range as opposed to Simmons’ usual 35+.
So to recap, we went from Elton Brand saying that he expected Simmons to be ready to play back in May, to now the head coach describing how disturbing of an injury it was while simultaneously mentioning minute restrictions. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Simmons and his health status.
While talking to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Grasso (who wrote the initial story on Brown’s comments, check that out: here), Justin noted that he felt this change in philosophy was likely due to Brand being too optimistic initially. No actual setbacks have been reported during Simmons’ rehabilitation, so it’s fair to assume he has been progressing along as expected.
Having Simmons on a minutes restriction heading into the NBA playoffs is definitely not something the Sixers would prefer. The now 2x All-Star has arguably been the team’s best overall player in 2019/20, averaging close to a triple-double while leading the league in steals.
While 30-35 minutes a game isn’t a noticeable drop off from Simmons’ usual playing time, it is definitely still concerning that the concept of easing him back into action is being talked about right now. That almost certainly means Simmons is not at 100% currently, and likely won’t be by the time the league resumes in late July.
Regardless, a slightly restricted Simmons is better than no Simmons at all. One of the few silver linings of the NBA’s hiatus is the fact that it’s given Ben an extended period of downtime to rest and recover. Had the playoffs started when they were supposed to, Ben likely would not have been able to play at all.
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David is a 20 year old college student at the University of Maryland. A lifelong Philadelphia sports fan who started covering the teams back in late May of 2019. After just a few months of writing for fun on a personal blog, he now reports on the 76ers for PhillySportsNetwork.com and the Phillies for Fansided.com.