"Ben Simmons at 6'10" is the X-factor for the Nets” – Skip Bayless with Ben Simmons' return expects Brooklyn Nets to be a conference finals contender 

Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons

After a slow start to the season, Ben Simmons and the Brooklyn Nets are starting to show signs of life. The question now is whether or not this is a sign of things to come.

Brooklyn's start to the year was less than ideal. The Nets (8-9) lost five of their first six games. Coach Steve Nash was relieved of duties on Nov. 1. Superstar point guard Kyrie Irving was suspended by the team for eight games. The roller coaster of drama continued to circulate the Nets organization.

But the Nets have started to show some promising signs of late. The team has won two consecutive games and are hoping to make it three in a row on Tuesday night. Ironically enough, it will be one of Brooklyn's most fascinating matchups yet.

The Nets are set to take on the Philadelphia 76ers (8-8), which will feature the return of Ben Simmons in front of 76ers fans. Simmons has started to play some of his best basketball of the season. In his last three games, Simmons is averaging 16.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 29.1 minutes per game.

With the Nets getting their core back, including Kyrie Irving, it looks as if things are trending upwards. Appearing on "Undisputed," analyst Skip Bayless said:

"This still very young man in Ben Simmons at 6-10 is the X-factor for the Nets. I'm not saying they'll win the East, but with Kyrie back and KD, they're a contender."
"This still very young man in Ben Simmons at 6'10" is the X-Factor for the Nets. I'm not saying they'll win the East, but with Kyrie back and KD, they're a contender."— @RealSkipBayless

Ben Simmons starting to finally find his rhythm for Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets wing Ben Simmons
Brooklyn Nets wing Ben Simmons

After being acquired at the trade deadline from the Philadelphia 76ers in February, there was some intrigue about Ben Simmons with the Brooklyn Nets. Simmons has the tools to be one of the most versatile stars in the NBA.

He's a dominant defensive weapon but also has the playmaking ability to be a force on the offensive side of the floor. With Simmons playing alongside superstars such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn has the tools to be a dangerous team.

Simmons ended up not making his Brooklyn Nets debut until this season. It's clear that the rust has taken a while to come off. In his first nine games, Simmons averaged just 5.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists while shooting 44.4%.

Ben Simmons set two season-highs on Sunday, per @SecondSpectrum:-22 on-ball screens-15 dribble-handoffsThis much more like the Nets could've expected: facilitate out of DHOs, screen and roll hard. It's the ideal role on offense for Simmons in the half court.

Two of Brooklyn's most impressive wins yet have come with Ben Simmons playing at an elite level.

Brooklyn defeated a tough Portland Trail Blazers squad 109-107 on the road on Thursday. The Nets then turned around and defeated the Memphis Grizzlies in Brooklyn 127-115 on Sunday. In those two games, Simmons averaged 18.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 6.0 apg while shooting 89.5%.

His biggest challenge will now come against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. He'll play in a place that he called home for the early portion of his NBA career.

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Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein
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