Don’t say it, don’t say it…Ben Simmons might just be back.
Simmons’ NBA career was nearly on life support last season as he spent much of the Brooklyn Nets’ campaign on the sidelines as he struggled with back injuries and surgery.
Many thought his basketball reputation was beyond repair after his unceremonious exit from Philadelphia and disappointing stint so far in Brooklyn.
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But if NBA pre-season games are anything to go by, Simmons could be well on the way to rediscovering the sort of form that made him a three-time All-Star early in his career.
In an exhibition game against Israel’s Maccabi Ra’anana, Simmons had six points, five rebounds and six assists on 60 per cent shooting in 14 minutes of action during the first half.
Brooklyn won 135-103 but all eyes were on Simmons, who looked fit and fluid on the court as he jumped on loose balls, attacked the hoop and set up teammates.
“Ben Simmons is the story right now. Ben Simmons is playing very well and the way he is moving around the floor is going to be a story in the NBA, that’s for sure,” commentator Tim Capstraw said.
WATCH BEN SIMMONS’ HIGHLIGHTS IN THE VIDEO PLAYER ABOVE
The highlight play came when he nailed a fadeaway mid-range jumpshot, a sight to behold for basketball fans who have been hoping to see Simmons improve his shooting.
The 27-year-old also impressed earlier this week in a pre-season game against the LA Lakers, picking up 10 points, three assists in 14 minutes of game time.
With Simmons now healthy and confident again, he could be in a position to return to his best alongside Mikal Bridges at a Brooklyn team not expected to be a championship contender.
NBA great LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored over 20,000 points in his career and briefly crossed paths with Simmons at the Nets, told news.com.au there’s no reason why Simmons can’t get back to his best this season.
Asked if Simmons rediscover his best form, Aldridge said: “Oh yeah. I mean he has the ability. He’s still crazy fast, he’s still crazy smart, he’s athletic.
“So I feel like he has all of the tools, it’s just if his body feels good enough to do it.
“He’s been playing long enough. If he says he’s in good shape and ready mentally, you have to just go play.
“That’s the biggest thing. If you’re healthy and feeling great, you can go play and not be in your own head.
“He’s been doing it long enough. If he’s been working hard as he said and he’s ready to go, it’s going to show right away.”
Simmons will be looking to help steer a new look Nets team to a playoff appearance after superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving departed last season.
The NBA season proper begins on October 24.