LAS VEGAS — Scores don’t imply a lot within the preseason, however sights do.
And the picture of Ben Simmons not simply taking part in however taking part in nicely is an auspicious one.
Brooklyn suffered a 129-126 loss to the Lakers at T-Cell Area on Monday evening.
However extra essential than the scoreboard watching was whether or not the oft-injured Simmons handed the attention take a look at in his first stay motion since February.
He did so with flying colours.
Getting back from a nerve impingement that wrecked final season, Simmons had 10 factors, three assists and a steal in 14:07 encouraging first-half minutes.
“[It felt] superb. That’s actually it, simply superb. Blissful to be on the market, and compete, and really feel good on the market and capable of contribute like I understand how I can. So I felt nice,” Simmons stated. “It’s one of the best in two years for certain. Positively.”
Simmons — who hadn’t performed since Feb. 15 attributable to again woes — appeared lively, athletic and aggressive earlier than sitting the second half, together with all of the starters aside from Cam Thomas.
“He attacked the rim, I believe he performed with tempo, appeared fairly pure on the market getting up and down the ground, speaking with guys into the circulate of the sport. Actually good to see,” coach Jacque Vaughn stated. “So, some actually good minutes.’
Simmons took LeBron James off the dribble for a driving layup on his second contact of the evening, obtained up increased on a dunk than he did at any level since becoming a member of the Nets, and was assured sufficient to attempt issues (even once they didn’t come off, like his behind-the-back move that sailed out of bounds).
“Very encouraging,” Vaughn stated. “Previously, of a number of the issues he’s been capable of do, and a few of that, the behind-the-back, that’s a part of his recreation. I perceive that. And the tempo that he performs with, unscripted and having a aptitude within the circulate to his recreation, these issues we wish him to get again to doing was instinctive basketball. I believe you noticed a few of that, and undoubtedly a constructive course for him.”
If Simmons had been wholesome final season, sources instructed The Submit that Kevin Durant probably would’ve stayed on in Brooklyn even with out Kyrie Irving.
Now the Nets can solely hope to get Simmons again to his outdated self to kind a constructing block alongside Mikal Bridges, who arrived within the Durant commerce.
After lacking all of 2021-22 with psychological well being woes and a foul again, Simmons had a microdiscectomy for a herniated L-4 disk on Could 5, 2022.
He rushed again too early and averaged profession lows of simply 6.9 factors, 6.3 boards and 6.1 assists in 42 ineffective appearances earlier than being shut down.
Now again after a robust camp, Simmons has dislodged Spencer Dinwiddie from the purpose guard spot.
Clearly taking part in Simmons alongside fellow non-shooter Nic Claxton precipitated some spacing points that have been exacerbated by Cam Johnson’s dangerous hamstring. That’s a piece in progress.
Thomas had 26 factors in a uncommon begin, however Bridges struggled with out that spacing.
The slasher mustered simply eight factors in 15:19, taking pictures 2-for-7 and ending a team-worst minus-11.
And the Nets additionally struggled adjusting to taking part in drop protection.
A Bridges turnover led to a Rui Hachimura dunk and a 66-47 deficit with 3:10 left within the second half.
Thomas pulled them even at 88-all, they usually took a 126-125 lead on a finger roll by ex-Laker Lonnie Walker IV.
However rookie Jalen Wilson obtained blocked and it led to Maxwell Lewis go-ahead dunk. After Trendon Watford was whistled for an offensive foul, Colin Castleton iced it on a layup with 49.9 seconds to play.
Nonetheless, Simmons’ play was a constructive.
“I used to be excited. So excited. Simply blessed to have the ability to come out right here and play at a excessive stage,” Simmons stated. “It’s thrilling. I get to play within the NBA. It’s an excellent job.”
“I’ve identified the way it felt for some time now and I’ve labored actually exhausting to place myself on this place. So I do know I’m prepared. I do know I’m greater than able to be right here and capable of compete and assist this crew win.”
- Ben Simmons passes eye take a look at in Nets’ preseason opener
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