Look who’s back! Aussie superstar and former Men’s Health cover star Ben Simmons has made a stunning return to the court today in Brooklyn, filling the stat sheet with a near triple double.
Simmons had 10 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists in just 18 minutes off the bench, helping the Brooklyn Nets to a 147-114 blowout victory over the Utah Jazz. After playing just six games earlier in the season before being shut down due to a back injury, Simmons’ blistering return could be a sign he’s ready to silence his critics.
Simmons opened the game in style, grabbing a steal and getting out on the break for a dunk within seconds of returning to the court.
“It’s always a fast break when I have the ball,” Simmons said after the game.
Throughout the game Simmons ran the floor and found his teammates for open looks.
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“Extremely impressive,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said of Simmons post-match.
“The ecosystem we live in is built around each other feeding off each other. We empower each other, you saw how other people played so well tonight because of the impact of Ben Simmons. It’s that simple.
“The looks we got, the amount of threes, the fast-break points, the uncontested looks and the pace we played with … we did it on both ends of the floor and Ben deserves an extreme amount of credit the way he played tonight.
“Once he said he was ready to go, I had no qualms he was going to be able to push the pace for us and get back to the high energy, high-octane pace he’s played with with this group.
“You see how he just impacts other people, he makes other dudes better. He likes doing that and when you get a guy who wants to do that on a nightly basis, it’s infectious.
“The ball movement tonight, he was the reason for it … you can’t ask for anything more, especially with the time he’s missed.”
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Simmons grabbed two rebounds and racked up six assists in just five minutes, becoming the first Nets player to record six-plus assists in an opening term since 1996-97. The Aussie was also 5 from 5 from the field and showed no signs of discomfort. Indeed, while Simmons played on a minutes restriction, it appeared he’d hardly missed a step, despite not playing since November 6.
Whether Simmons can help the Nets make a play-off run remains to be seen, but surrounded by bucket-getters like Mikal Bridges and Cam Thomas, they could, at the very least, become a fun League-pass team and perhaps a play-in contender. The team is currently one game outside the play-in bracket in 11th place, but with Simmons back and seemingly firing on all cylinders, it might be time to readjust our expectations of the Nets this season.
And who knows, perhaps the second coming of Ben Simmons has finally begun.