When the 2019-20 NBA season restarts in its centrally-located setting at Walt Disney World, the Philadelphia 76ers still might have a banged up Ben Simmons on their hands.
Head coach Brett Brown admitted to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix that the 23-year-old won’t be at full strength by the time play resumes.
“My opinion — and this is not confirmed yet — is that we are going to be able to inch him back into this,” Brown. “Is he going to be 100-percent? I don’t expect that. But I think he is going to be available.”
Simmons missed the 76ers’ previous eight games because of a back injury before play was shut down on March 11 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
More than three months later, the fact that he isn’t at full strength is concerning considering the sprint that lays ahead for the Sixers.
Upon the league’s return in late-July, the 22 teams invited to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will compete in eight regular-season games to decipher the official postseason standings.
The 76ers have a postseason spot already clinched, but a strong finish to the season could see them jump two or three seeds up from their current position of sixth in the Eastern Conference. Should the current standings hold, they would face the No. 3 Boston Celtics in the first round.
While his game has remained under the microscope as 76ers fans expected the organization to take the next step, Simmons has been consistent to his form of last season, averaging 16.7 points with 7.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists, and a league-leading 2.1 steals per game.