Before Adam Silver suspended the NBA season back in March, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons was already partaking in a hiatus of his own. After suffering a lower-back impingement shortly after the All-Star break, Simmons was in danger of missing the remainder of the regular season.
"That was as disturbing a memory as it relates to a player that I can think of," said Sixers' head coach Brett Brown as he recalled Simmons' injury from back in February. "He was lying on his back, and he's vomiting primarily because of the pain." At the time, the Sixers were unsure if they were going to have Simmons available at all for the rest of the season -- and there was fear Simmons could miss some of the postseason as well.
But as the NBA continues its multi-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 76ers fully expect Simmons to be back in action when the league restarts in July. "The effort [Simmons] has put in under the restrictions that are all on top of us, he is to be praised and applauded in a significant way," Brown told the media last month. "The professionalism and discipline that he has shown, he's teed off on that -- he's been outstanding."
Before the injury, Simmons was one of, if not, the most reliable players on the Sixers when available. Not only was he a force on both sides of the ball, but the third-year guard was never known to take much time off. This season, Simmons averaged a career-high of 35.8 minutes-per-game, which ranked at the top for the Sixers.
After suffering a significant injury, and missing so much time though, Simmons might not have the opportunity to come back and play his average minutes when the season resumes. After having a conversation with Sports Illustrated's NBA Insider Chris Mannix, Brett Brown revealed Simmons' minutes are likely to take a hit.
"Brett told me that while he expects Ben Simmons to play, it's going to be a case of being brought along slowly," Brown told Mannix this week. "So Ben Simmons isn't going to come back and play thirty, thirty-five minutes a night. I think how much he's able to play and the effectiveness with which he's able to play with will probably be the biggest factor for the Sixers coming back."
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_