Is Ben Simmons really ready for NBA return?

REAL SPORTS SCENE - Anthony Suntay - Philstar.com
Is Ben Simmons really ready for NBA return?
Ben Simmons of the Brooklyn Nets speaks at the podium during a press conference at Brooklyn Nets Media Day at HSS Training Center on September 26, 2022 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Dustin Satloff / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – One of the most intriguing stories this coming NBA season is the return of Ben Simmons.

After being driven out of Philadelphia because of his playoff collapse, including his subsequent rift with the coaching staff, teammates and management over his possible return to the Sixers, he was eventually traded to Brooklyn middle of last season in exchange for James Harden.

All throughout, his mental issues were the top story.

There were some reports about his back problems, but in reality, it seemed like these were all psychological deficiencies more than physical ones. 

Now he says he is ready to return and is excited to contribute to his new team.

“I'm getting used to the up-and-down play," Simmons said during their media day session. "I feel great. It's good to be out here with these guys."

And he claims he’s looking forward to playing with his new teammates, All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“You're playing with some great NBA players, some of the greatest. So, for me, it's just playing alongside them, figuring out where they want their shots, how they move, different spots on the floor where I need to be. It's just timing,” Simmons states.

It seems like everyone is trying to lay the proper foundation to make things work by saying the right things, more importantly to make Ben feel at ease.

“Very unique, that's what makes Ben great. That's why I don't care if he ever shoots a jump shot for the Brooklyn Nets. He's welcome to, but that is not what makes him special and not what we need. He's a great complement to our team, and he's an incredible basketball player because of his versatility,” said head coach Steve Nash.

Nash needs to be careful, because obviously Simmons is a very sensitive guy, and he needs to help his player thrive in the best scenario possible.

I’m actually surprised at how fragile Simmons is mentally. Parents are often told “get your kids into sports, it helps build character and strengthens them mentally to deal with adversity in the future.”

Of course I understand that different people handle stress in various manners, and I’ll leave all that analysis to the sports psychologists, but you’d expect an elite player like Simmons to have a stronger mental resolve than his lesser known peers.

The bottom line is he’s back, physically and mentally, but will cracks start to show when the road gets tougher as the season progresses? 

But at the moment, Nash has got his back, which is something Simmons felt wasn’t evident in Philly, when he felt Doc Rivers threw him under the bus after the play-off debacle.

“I think Ben's just an incredible playmaker. Size, speed, ability, unselfishness, he's always looking to get guys open. He's a great screener. He has terrific vision. With his size and speed, he's able to push the ball in transition and also get into gaps, so a great fit for Kevin and Ky to try and make the game a little bit easier for them,” Nash stated.

We wish Ben the best, but only time will tell if this truly is a match made in heaven.



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