Ben Simmons to make NBA return vs. Sixers

Ben Simmons vs. Sixers (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons vs. Sixers (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

It has been over a year since Ben Simmons last played NBA basketball. Then, he was still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. A much maligned member, to be sure. A lot has happened since that faithful day long ago. Now Simmons is on the Brooklyn Nets, and he is set to make his Brooklyn debut (and long-awaited NBA return) on Monday, Oct. 3… against the Sixers.

Monday’s showdown is only a preseason game, so Simmons’ time on the court should be fleeting. The starters for both teams will probably log 10-15 minutes then sit. The second half will be left to the reserves who are jockeying for rotation spots.

That said, it will be fascinating to see how Simmons looks in his first NBA action in so long. It will be even more fascinating to see how he looks against his former team. Joel Embiid has stayed away from public comments about Simmons lately, but there’s undeniable bad blood there. Simmons thinks Embiid threw him under the bus, and Embiid no doubt begrudges Simmons for how last season’s events unfolded.

Ben Simmons will make his NBA return against the Sixers on Monday

The Nets’ projected starting five includes Simmons, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nic Claxton, and Seth Curry (who will not play Monday because of an ankle injury). It’s a good set-up for Simmons. Lots of shooting and lots of running. Meanwhile, it poses a challenge for the Sixers, who were singularly terrible defending the fast break last season.

With P.J. Tucker expected to guard Kevin Durant, the Simmons defensive assignment will likely fall to Tobias Harris. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Joel Embiid get some time guarding Simmons too, but the Sixers might save the more exciting game plan wrinkles for the regular season.

Simmons will guard James Harden on the other end. Harden has struggled against Simmons in the past, though neither team will be going at full speed on Monday and therefore any results (individual or team) should be taken with a significant grain of salt.

In all likelihood, tomorrow’s game will be pretty uneventful. Ben Simmons probably won’t unleash a barrage of 3s or get into any scrums. The interactions between him and former teammates will probably be courteous, much to the dismay of scornful Philly fans. But it will draw no shortage of local and national attention, and there’s always an outside chance for something juicy.

Assuming he’s operating at full strength, Simmons is still a very talented player. The Sixers will need to game plan accordingly. James Harden will also have his own demons to exorcise after last season’s pitiful performance against his former team.

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