Ben Simmons hasn’t played in the NBA since the Philadelphia 76ers were unceremoniously eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs. The Australian had one of the worst postseason shooting performances by a superstar ever.
With drama continuing to surround the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons will undoubtedly be in the spotlight once the next season starts. Along with the New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson, he will be carefully monitored by basketball fans.
The Athletic’s Keith Parish sees the three-time All-Star as the player with the most to improve when next season starts:
“Even at his worst, at his most famous, passing up the layup in that rough series against the Hawks. In that series, he was 62% on field goals, he averaged like 15 [points], 8 [rebounds] and 8 [assists]. The guy is unique, creative and interesting.
"If Ben Simmons doesn’t show up and give us glimpses of the things we’ve seen in the past, where do you go from here with this guy? It’s absolutely easy, he's the guy with the most to prove.”
Parish was too generous with the numbers. Simmons put up just 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.3 steals in reality. More importantly, he played significantly worse than his numbers suggest.
If Simmons never regains his All-Star self, the series against the Hawks will be a telling start to his downfall. Not only was Simmons inefficient, he was also a detriment to the Philadelphia 76ers’ offense.
Ben Simmons, in the last four games of the series, didn't take a single shot in the fourth quarter. He hurriedly passed the ball to avoid shot attempts. Simmons attempted just three field goals in the fourth quarter of the entire series.
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The experience was so traumatic, the former Philly point guard cited mental issues as part of the reason for sitting out last season. How he overcomes that kind of hurdle could determine his future in the NBA.
Ben Simmons’ back could be a problem moving forward in his NBA career
Ben Simmons had successful back surgery in May. He had already begun his rehab in June and posted photos on social media of his workouts. For an athlete who relies so much on his explosiveness, the back issue could be something to monitor.
Lingering back issues can limit a player’s ability to impact the game. Dwight Howard was one such athletic freak who couldn’t get back to his usual standards after back surgery. Larry Bird’s greatness was also cut short by nagging back trouble.
Ben Simmons has his work cut as he tries to bounce back next season. He has to prove he’s figured out the mental aspect of the game. His body has to heal and respond to the rigors of the NBA, too.