Ben Simmons Rumors: 'Optimism' Nets Star Could Return During 1st Round of Playoffs

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 10, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 31:  Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets look on during their game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on March 31, 2022 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.   (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Ben Simmons has spent the entirety of the season on the sidelines, but it appears he might be inching his way onto the court.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Brooklyn Nets are optimistic about the power forward's availability for the first round of the playoffs.

The 25-year-old originally sat out with the Philadelphia 76ers in an effort to force a trade. He eventually got his wish in February and was sent to the Nets in the James Harden swap.

But Simmons' sabbatical continued from there, as he suffered a herniated disk issue and has been unable to play for the Nets.

The Australian has always been a polarizing player. On one hand, he's one of the NBA's best and most versatile on-ball defenders, and his playmaking ability and pace in transition make him a one-man fast break.

However, his unwillingness to shoot the ball makes him a far bigger hindrance in the half-court offense, where teams are able to help off him.

That was a major issue in Philadelphia, where opponents would sag off Simmons and clog the paint, making Joel Embiid's life more difficult when he posted up. The idea behind acquiring him in the Harden deal, though, was that it would be less of an issue with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, excellent shooters who naturally space the floor.

The fit isn't perfect—Simmons on the court with a traditional big like Andre Drummond is wonky at best—but the defense and playmaking he offers makes sense next to Durant and Irving.