What ought to Nets anticipate from Ben Simmons in NBA Playoffs? Professionals and cons of potential return vs. Celtics

June 20, 2021. That was the last time Ben Simmons participated in an NBA game. The long wait for his return to action may soon come to an end, though.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Simmons has made progress in his recovery from a back injury, and Game 4 of the Nets’ first-round series with the Celtics has turned into a “realistic target.” However, Brooklyn has consistently declined to offer a timeline on his debut with the team that acquired him at the trade deadline.

MORE: When will Ben Simmons play for the Nets? Updated status for NBA Playoff series vs. Celtics

“There’s no other way than him to say, ‘I’m ready,'” Nash told reporters on Wednesday. “Especially after an absence this long. So whenever he is ready, it’s going to have to be on him to say, ‘I feel comfortable. I feel ready to go. I want to play and I want to contribute.’

“We can’t push him places when you have been out this long. It’s got to be something where he is definitely comfortable and ready to play.”

If Simmons is able to suit up during the 2022 NBA Playoffs, what can the Nets expect from him?

Why Ben Simmons can make an impact for Nets

How about we let a former NBA player answer that question? On Wednesday’s edition of “Get Up,” ESPN analyst JJ Redick explained why Simmons can be a contributor for the Nets after such a long layoff.

“Ben Simmons’ game is not reliant on feel or rhythm or touch,” Redick said. “Ben Simmons’ game is reliant on, ‘Can I go up and down the floor? And can I guard?’ He’s not gonna play if he ca n’t physically move the way he wants to move.

“Look, if he can play, I expect him to make an impact. Defensively, playmaking — their closing lineup with him at the five, especially against a team like the Celtics, that’s dangerous to me.”

MORE: Nets star Kevin Durant facing uncharacteristic struggles against Celtics’ suffocating defense

Simmons does bring elements that the Nets desperately need against the Celtics. Offensively, he could create easy scoring opportunities in transition before Boston’s defense gets set. He would take some of the burden away from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, both of whom shot under 33 percent in a Game 2 loss.

The three-time All-Star would also be a huge upgrade defensively. Even if he isn’t operating at his peak level, Simmons would give Brooklyn another wing to throw at Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

So, it’s a no-brainer that Simmons would completely change the series and spark a Nets turnaround, right?

Why Ben Simmons may not help Nets

Not so fast. Remember, this is a guy who hasn’t played in an NBA game in 10 months — and he didn’t exactly shine the last time he was on the postseason stage.

Simmons averaged just 11.9 points in 12 NBA Playoff games last year, the lowest postseason mark of his career. He shot an atrocious 34.2 percent from the free throw line, which clearly impacted his aggressiveness on him.

MORE: How Ben Simmons went from top pick to Philadelphia’s biggest enemy

Where will he be mentally if he knows the hack-a-Ben strategy is coming? What happens if he needs to stand at the charity stripe in a high pressure situation?

Aside from those concerns, Simmons is jumping into a rotation with a new group of guys. There would be moments when Simmons’ natural talent takes over, but there would also be moments when he’s awkwardly standing in the dunker spot, leaving his defender to clog up the paint.

The Celtics are already shading multiple defenders toward Durant. Simmons would just give them a non-shooter to ignore. Sure, Simmons could hurt Boston on the fast break, but when the game slows down to a half-court battle, he may be a liability.

Realistically, Simmons can only do so much for a Nets team that has struggled with inconsistency all season long. Unless the rest of Simmons’ teams can give better performances, the excitement of his potential return from him would be short-lived.

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