Even though the NBA has a plan to restart its season, we are still living in uncertain times. The spike in COVID-19 cases in Florida, where the NBA is to restart its season, is a sobering reminder that nobody can say for certain what will occur in the sports world, or for that matter, any place.
Still, if the NBA restarts, the 76ers, with an in-shape Joel Embiid and a healthy Ben Simmons, should be a team of considerable interest.
While there are no recent medical reports, the video that Simmons’ trainer Chris Johnson posted showed that at the least, the two-time all-star was moving very well.
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Ben Simmons last played a full NBA game right before the All-Star break, Feb. 11, when he had a triple double - 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 110-103 win over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
He then suffered a back injury, missed the Sixers’ first game back after the break, then returned in a game at Milwaukee but played just 4 minutes and 44 seconds before leaving with a nerve impingement in his lower back during a 119-98 loss.
After that, Simmons missed the final eight games before the season was suspended on March 11.
In those videos that Johnson posted, Simmons was moving freely and dunking with authority. Of course videos may not tell the entire story. Remember the previous videos of Simmons working on long-range shooting over the summer?
Yet, if he is indeed ready to return, the question is could he pick up where he left off right before the All-Star break? In the 15 games before the break, Simmons averaged 21.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 3.9 turnovers in 38.4 minutes. He shot 63% from the field, and more importantly 69.4% from the foul line. Even though he is a 59.4% career free throw shooter, he is hitting 62.7 percent this season. Improved free throw shooting will give Simmons the confidence to go to the basket more and get to the free throw line, especially late in games.
While it would be a surprise if he started freely attempting threes, Simmons can help in so many other aspects of the game, especially on the defensive end, where he could be a first-team all-defense selection.
If he can indeed pick up where he left off when the NBA is scheduled to return July 30, it could be among the bigger developments when the teams begin play in Orlando.
Keith Pompey profiles Torrel Harris, the father and agent of Sixers forward Tobias Harris, who has been highly successful on several fronts.
Center Christ Koumadje of the Sixers’ G League affiliate the Delaware Blue Coats, was named defensive player of the year in the G League.
The status of each Philadelphia sport’s road back to playing
A report by the National Transportation Safety Board says the pilot in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others, may have been disoriented in the fog. The Associated Press has the story.
One of the most exciting players ever, first in college and then the NBA, Pistol Pete Pete Maravich was born on this day, June 22, 1947. Maravich died at the age of 40 in 1988.
He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987 and among those inducted the same year were Walt Frazier and Rick Barry.
What many may not know is that Maravich’s final game was played against the Sixers. That was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, when the Sixers clinched the series over the Boston Celtics with a 105-94 win at the Boston Garden.
In that game Maravich had four points, hitting 2 of 8 shots in 17 minutes.
During his career Maravich, one of the sport’s most entertaining players ever, was a five-time All-Star, twice with the Atlanta Hawks and three times with the New Orleans Jazz.
He was a three-time first-team all-American at LSU, where he averaged an incredible 44.2 points in 83 career games.
Question: How long will it take the players to get into game shape? - from Tadd Kozeniewski on Facebook.