Ben Simmons has only played in 17 games over the past two seasons, and every time things start to improve, he seemingly suffers another setback. After back surgery kept him out at the end of last season, he started to make progress this season before knee soreness and a calf strain sidelined him recently. Fortunately for Brooklyn, Simmons seems to be on track to return shortly. He hopes to be back for Friday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, he told reporters Tuesday. According to Simmons, dealing with injuries to several body parts has made it difficult to get back into peak physical condition.
"It's a lot of load for coming back from a back injury and then also the knee," Simmons said. "So I'm glad I had this time to build some muscle around it and we'll work on it."
Simmons got off to a slow start this season but had definitely turned a corner before his latest injury. In his last seven games, he averaged 13.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game while starting to show more of the defensive excellence that made him a star in Philadelphia.
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As Simmons improved, so too did the Nets. After starting the season 2-6, they have gone 11-6 since and are now above .500 at 13-12. Considering the drama this team has dealt with all year, even getting there is remarkably impressive. In roughly six months, Kevin Durant has demanded a trade, Kyrie Irving has been suspended for publicizing an antisemitic documentary on his social media platforms, Steve Nash has been fired as head coach and replaced by Jacque Vaughn, and Simmons has dealt with injuries amid his return to play.
But for the past few weeks, the Nets have been slowly returning to normalcy. Once Simmons makes it back onto the court, they will have their whole roster available without any major controversies lingering over their season. Only then will we see how good this team can really be.