Philadelphia 76ers Ben Simmons should be ready to play when the NBA season begins again.
Simmons lost eight games because of a nervous shock in his lower back before the 2019-20 campaign was stopped amid the coronavirus pandemic. The owner was at the time scheduled to be reassessed in three weeks, questioning his availability for a playoff at the end of the season.
Sixers' general manager, Elton Brand, now believes he can fit in.
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"I am very optimistic that he will be able to play if and when we get the green light to resume," Brand said in a conference call on Tuesday.
NBA leader in steals with 115, Simmons was allowed to rehabilitate on the 76ers' premises and Brand was encouraged by his progress. The next step is for Simmons to go to work every three and five out of five, but these scrimmages will not be allowed until social distance restrictions are lifted.
"I give Ben and our medical team a ton of credit for their hard work throughout their recovery," said Brand. "I give Ben so much credit for working so hard during this unknown period. Fortunately, we have managed to see that he continues to receive the treatment and rehabilitation he needs during this hiatus."
"When I face him during his training and treatments and see him, I am very encouraged."
Simmons, 23, and twice All-Star, was in the middle of another excellent season before being sidelined, averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals. He has been instrumental in Philadelphia's success, as the 76ers is 33-21 when Simmons plays and 6-5 when he doesn't.
The Sixers were tied with Pacers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference when the season ended, and Simmons' return would be the key to a playoff match.
"We took a while, we were methodical and thoughtful about his recovery and rehabilitation, just to be sure, because we weren't in a hurry," said Brand.
& # 39; & # 39; It is difficult to speculate. He's working hard and I know he'll be close or ready & # 39; & # 39; said Brand.