The up-and-down career of Brooklyn Nets point guard Ben Simmons took another nosedive a few weeks ago when the Aussie playmaker missed three games with a left hip contusion. However, Simmons was later diagnosed with a left lower back nerve impingement and has not played since a 33-minute outing on Nov. 6.
The 27-year-old has played well this season and averages 6.5 points, 6.7 assists, and a career-high 10.8 rebounds in six games. According to a recent Nets' public relations release, "Ben Simmons is continuing to improve with treatment and has begun light individual court work. Simmons will have his status updated again in 7-10 days."
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn has since suggested fans will find out more information on Saturday, “We’re gonna give you something on Saturday probably, overall of where Ben is at,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He has been included in all our meetings, film, and all that stuff. We’ll give you something on Saturday about what he’s been doing on the court.”
Injuries have plagued Simmons throughout his NBA career. He did not play during his rookie season and missed the entire 2021-22 season because of a back injury and contract issues. The former LSU standout has played just 48 of 132 possible games since joining Brooklyn.
Due to his past back problems, speculation was rampant that Simmons could be sidelined for several months. But the 6-foot-10 guard is expected to return to action this month.
Dr. Neel Anand, a back specialist, told The New York Post that Simmons would need anti-inflammatories and 1-2 weeks of rehab before he could resume practice. The All-Star would also need at least another week before a return to the court.
Simmons’ agent Bernie Lee told The New York Post that his latest injury will not require surgery and is not as problematic as his previous back injuries.
"Ben had an MRI in the last couple of days, and it's shown us that he's experiencing some nerve irritation issues on the lower left side of his body, which is going to cause him to miss to some time as he rehabs and builds himself back from that," Lee said.
"He's not experiencing anything similar to what he's gone through in the past or what he went through last year, and this is something that the expectation is that with the proper kind of rehab, he'll be able to resume his season in a short period of time without any issue."
The absence of the three-time All-Star has significantly impacted the Nets offensive scoring. With Simmons running the show, Brooklyn has averaged 118.2 points while shooting 40.7 percent from behind the three-point line. However, the squad is averaging 105 points and connecting on 33.3 percent of shots from behind the arc.
Lee stressed to reporters that his client would return sooner rather than later despite his past injury woes.
"Really what has to happen is the area has to calm down. Once it calms down, then there's a period of kind of reactivity that's built into things. And then it's how his body responds to that, and getting him back into obviously game shape and all those kinds of things.
"Obviously, based on Ben's history, there will be a conservative kind of approach to this. And I think we all saw, the way he began the season, he started really, really well.
"He's obviously a significant portion to the Brooklyn Nets, and he and the Nets remain on the same page to continue to work hand-in-hand to help him fulfil the requirements that the Nets have for him and help him to continue to be a really positive member of the team."
Brooklyn has been plagued with a rash of injuries to key players to start the 2023-24 campaign. Center Nicolas Claxton returned to the hardwood recently after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season opener. The fourth-year veteran tallied 10 points, 13 boards, two assists, and four blocks over 28 minutes in just his second game of the young season.
Cam Thomas has been cleared for increased on-court activity after rolling his ankle stepping on P.J. Tucker's foot on Nov. 8. The young guard leads the Nets with a team-high 26.9-point scoring average and would be a top 10 scorer in the league if he qualified.
Forward Cam Johnson missed seven games with a calf strain and has finally found his three-point stroke after struggling from deep to open the season. Before injuring his calf in the opening game, Johnson missed the entire preseason with a hamstring strain.
Johnson, who inked a four-year, $94.5 million deal this offseason, knocked down 5-of-8 from behind the three-point line in a 147-145 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Nov. 23. One of the key returns in the blockbuster Kevin Durant trade last season, Johnson turned in his best game of the season with 23 points.
Dennis Smith Jr. is considered day-to-day with a lower back sprain. The backup point guard has missed Brooklyn's last two games and is averaging five points, three assists, and two rebounds this season.
Smith recently underwent an MRI exam which prompted reporters to ask Vaughn if the reserve guard's back injury had gotten worse.
"Well, the fact that he's not playing," Vaughn said. "That's kind of our steps a little bit. You let a guy get clinically diagnosed, you hope it's not an acute injury; then you see if he can get some treatment and get back on the floor.
"Well, we had a couple days of treatment and he's not back on the floor. So then we'll take the next step and get an MRI."
The Nets (9-9) are currently standing 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Despite the challenges faced, the Nets maintain a resilient stance in the Eastern Conference. For NBA betting enthusiasts, this presents a dynamic scenario. The evolving situation with Simmons and the team's performance creates a fluctuating environment for betting odds, inviting keen attention from those looking to wager on the Nets' future games and overall season performance.