Report: 76ers' Ben Simmons Expected to Return from Injury If NBA Season Resumes

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons plays during an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons will reportedly be available to play if the 2019-20 NBA season resumes.

According to ESPN's Jackie MacMullan, the lower back impingement that had Simmons on the injury report before the season was suspended March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic has "all but dissipated." A team source added: "If the season resumes, we're expecting to have him."

Philly is tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers at 39-26, and it is just two games behind the Miami Heat for fourth.

The 23-year-old Simmons was enjoying another strong statistical campaign before the injury, which kept him out for the Sixers' final eight games.

Simmons was averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and a career-high 8.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game. His field-goal percentage of 58.5 percent was a personal high as well, and he made the first two three-pointers of his three-year career.

Simmons, who has been named an All-Star each of the past two seasons, is a pivotal part of the 76ers' present and future.

While the 76ers boast a talented core built around Simmons, Embiid, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Al Horford, they may not have enough shooting to truly vie for a championship.

Last season's team pushed the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but they lost both Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick in free agency, which left them with few go-to options when they need to hit a big shot from beyond the arc.

Shooting deficiency is perhaps the biggest reason the Sixers were performing below expectations when the season was suspended, along with injuries and the fact that Horford hasn't been the type of impact addition the organization was hoping for.

Even so, the Sixers could be a dangerous playoff team with a healthy Simmons and Embiid, and it is unlikely that any of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would want to run into them during the postseason.

The resumption of the season is far from guaranteed since the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to formulate a concrete plan, but the 76ers may be the team that benefits most from the suspension if it does resume since it has allowed them to heal.