An evaluation of an NBA player’s legacy is one of the most volatile aspects of the league, as in some cases, all it takes is a single game or shot to define an entire career. Every NBA player is looking to prove themselves whenever they step foot on the hardwood. However, there comes the point for specific players, where proving themselves becomes a necessity.
From former number one overall picks to potential league MVPs, here are the five players with the most to prove headed into Orlando.
Ben Simmons seems to be doing well in his recovery from a back injury.
Simmons recently partook in an open run along with fellow Klutch Sports athlete, LeBron James.
LeBron and Ben Simmons at a recent open run
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 19, 2020
Simmons hurt his back during a 76ers-Bucks game in February. He was only supposed to miss a few weeks, but that got extended, and then the season was suspended in March.
76ers head coach Brett Brown said this week he was not expecting Simmons to be at 100 percent when the season resumes in Orlando next month. Simmons was averaging 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game this season. Philly is tied with Indiana for the fifth spot in the East with a 39-26 record.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ title hopes will ride in large part on the performance of Ben Simmons, but Brett Brown is tempering expectations for him a bit.
Speaking this week with Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, the Sixers head coach said that, though he does anticipate Simmons being available, he does not expect the star forward to be at 100 percent when the season resumes.
“My opinion, and this is not confirmed yet, is that we are going to be able to inch him back into this,” said Brown. “Is he going to be 100 percent, I don’t expect that. But I think he is going to be available.”
The 23-year-old Simmons, who had been posting strong averages of 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game this season, went down in February with nerve impingement in his lower back. He has had some added time to recover though, and the NBA’s planned restart at the end of July would put Simmons at over five months removed from the injury.
Still, Brown recently revealed just how unsettling Simmons’ injury was, so it is fair to expect that the two-time All-Star won’t be operating at full capacity right away when play picks back up again.
Before the NBA shutdown, Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons had missed eight consecutive games with a lower back impingement. Apparently, it was an exceptionally painful injury.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Simmons was vomiting from being in so much pain during a Feb. 22 game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the most recent Simmons has played in.
discussing Simmons’ current health, Brown refers to his level of pain in Milwaukee “that was as disturbing a memory of a player as I can think of.” Says that Ben was vomiting he was in so much pain (???)
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) May 15, 2020
Simmons had actually sat out a Feb. 20 game against Brooklyn with the back issue before trying to return two nights later and lasting less than five minutes. One has to wonder why he played in the first place if he was in that much agony.
Simmons had been ruled out for two weeks at the time. He’ll be set to return when the NBA does.
Rudy Gobert may be the reigning back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year, but that still is not enough to win over Ben Simmons.
The Philadelphia 76ers star was streaming a “Call of Duty” video game session on Twitch this week when the discussion turned to who he thinks are the top five defenders in the league. While offering his list, Simmons made a point of saying that the Utah Jazz center Gobert did not make the cut.
Ben Simmons lists Anthony Davis as the best defender in the NBA; along with his list of top 5 defenders pic.twitter.com/5tW7rEAcnz
— Ball Realm (@TheBallRealm) March 20, 2020
“I look at AD [Anthony Davis], and I think he’s a better defender than Gobert because he can defend guards at times,” he said. “I didn’t say Rudy [for my list] … I play ball. I’m looking at guys that can defend 1 through 5, man.”
Simmons eventually clarified that his list consisted of Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Marcus Smart, and Sixers teammate Joel Embiid.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) March 19, 2020
While the 7-foot-1 Gobert might not have the mobility to be the NBA’s best one-on-one defender, he could very well be the best team defender in the league. His elite rim protection provides a stout back line of defense for his teammates and can greatly alter the gameplan of an entire opposing offense.
Simmons’ list seemed to be exclusively those currently in the East and/or those that he has faced in the playoffs in the East. The former No. 1 pick’s slight history with the Jazz probably shouldn’t be discounted either.
H/T Deseret News
The Philadelphia 76ers did not get great news on the status of guard Ben Simmons.
According to multiple reports, Simmons will be re-evaluated in two weeks after being diagnosed with a nerve impingement in his lower back. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added, however, that Simmons is not expected to be ready to return at that point.
There's no timeline for a Simmons return, but an evaluation in two weeks is more of an initial benchmark date than an expectation of a quick return to the lineup. https://t.co/HqCsag1jvx
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 25, 2020
This is a significant blow for the Sixers, who are stuck in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Simmons is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game, and is a huge part of the Philadelphia offense despite his limitations as a jump shooter.
If it’s true that Simmons will likely miss more than two weeks, it could be that he doesn’t play until mid- to late-March. That would very much hurt Philadelphia’s hopes of getting a better playoff seed, but as long as they can get Simmons back before the postseason, it’s not entirely the end of the world. They can’t really thrive without him, though, even despite rumors of a rift with his All-Star teammate Joel Embiid.
There is still a lack of clarity regarding Ben Simmons’ back injury, but it’s shaping up to be at least somewhat serious.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Simmons will miss time, and the injury is not day-to-day. However, the team is still trying to determine the best treatment for their star guard.
ESPN Sources: Sixers star Ben Simmons is still undergoing treatment and evaluation on his back and there’s expected to be a course of action decided upon soon. This isn’t a day-to-day injury; Simmons will miss time. How much time? That’s still unclear.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 24, 2020
This doesn’t sound great for Philadelphia. We already know Simmons won’t play Monday, but it certainly sounds like he’ll miss other games beyond that. If Simmons isn’t back by Sunday, he’ll miss the start of a west coast swing that sees the Sixers play the Clippers and Lakers.
Simmons is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game this season. The Sixers, who are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, will be hoping to get him back as quickly as possible.