Finally, we have a Philadelphia 76ers injury update to feel good about.
The last comment we heard from Sixers head coach Brett Brown on Ben Simmons, who was sidelined this season with nerve impingement in his lower back, was that the team was planning to “inch” Simmons back into playing. It was a positive update overall as Brown said he thought Simmons would be available to play, but he didn’t expect the young star to be 100 percent and sounded a little cautious.
Now, in a conference call with media members, Brown has said that Simmons is “good to go”.
Brett Brown on Ben Simmons: "He's good to go. He's put in a tremendous amount of work for me to be able to say that...What I'm told is effectively 100% health." #sixers— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) July 1, 2020
Brown also added that his recent comment about inching Simmons back into playing understated where he’s been with his recovery, as Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia noted.
It should go without saying how huge Ben Simmons being healthy is for the Sixers. No one can come close to replacing his impact at either end of the floor. And while he can’t be expected to be in top form yet (no player can after having so many months away from games and typical training), it’s good to hear how hard he’s been working and that he’s ready to play.
Brown also mentioned that he wants to use Simmons off ball more, and that he “wants to use him in a variety of ways,” per Jason Blevins of 97.3 ESPN. Of course, this isn’t exactly a brand new comment from Brown. But it at least supports his increased use of Simmons as a screener and roll man this season, and how he wants to use him alongside other ballhandlers like Shake Milton.
Ben Simmons averaged 21.2 points (61.3 FG%, 67.9 FT% on 6.9 attempts) over his last 20 healthy games of the season.— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) July 1, 2020
His increased aggressiveness to drive and roll to the rim and up his free throw rate was a key part of his improvement this year. pic.twitter.com/d7iibuXN8k
Another important update from Brown was that no Sixers players have tested positive for coronavirus, and no one has opted out of playing in Orlando when the season returns, per Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Brown also talked about recent conversations between the team. There have been far more important matters to worry about than basketball recently, and the Sixers have been heavily focusing on the movement against racial injustice. “The truth of the matter is my last two zoom calls with my team were 1 percent basketball,” Brown said, per Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck. They’ve also discussed the question of whether players really want to be in Orlando for the return of the season.