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ROUNDTABLE: What do we expect from Ben Simmons in 2023-24?

NetsDaily gathered our best and brightest to discuss Ben Simmons, given the buzz around his offseason and the approach of September 1, the day Sean Marks set for him to be ready to go.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Brooklyn Nets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but folks are talking about Ben Simmons during the NBA offseason, as videos and pictures from his shirtless workouts emerge. In other words, it’s August, baby. And Friday is September 1, the day Sean Marks said Simmons would “probably” be ready.

From our August 1st article on Simmons’ workouts in Miami:

The word around Ben Simmons has been uniformly positive the last few weeks. His general manager, head coach, his teammates, his agent and league sources (who sound a lot like his agent) have spoken as if one voice on the 27-year-old’s progress in his rehab down at the University of Miami.

Sean Marks has spoken positively about his “physical and mental state,” Jacque Vaughn says he’s “excited” to coach Simmons. Mikal Bridges has told Paul George that Simmons is fully engaged with his teammates ... “He’s the one talking in the chat all the time” and Bernie Lee, the agent, has described Simmons as “legitimately a basketball savant” who could be back at a pre-holdout level of play. The sources have said that Simmons is “100% healthy” and is now moving on to skill work and conditioning.

The article is aptly titled “Should Nets fans be skeptical of all this good news about Ben Simmons?”

That sums up where we currently are with the Simmons experience. The word is the word, and whether you believe such optimism is warranted or Lucy holding the football again, it’s always worth considering. What does a healthy Ben Simmons look like in 2024? What would it mean for the Brooklyn Nets if he returns to peak form, if such a thing is possible? What if he doesn’t?

We gathered our team of pundits, skeptics, and optimists to weigh in below.

What’s the best case scenario for Ben Simmons in 2023-2024?

Collin Helwig

Man, I really just want to see this guy smiling and playing hard again. A Simmons poke away steal, transition dunk, and then quick smile as he jogs back on defense would be like a breath of fresh air after spending 12 hours in a hot subway. Essentially, the best case for Ben10 this year has to be him getting back to Philly form. That involves him running the floor both to initiate fast breaks and slow down those of his opponents, attacking the rim, and including one or two highlight passes a night. To look at it from a quantitative standpoint, averaging anywhere around 15/7/7 feels like a solid high-end target that isn’t totally fictional. I won’t get too greedy and start calling on him to establish a jump shot (not yet at least) but if he can also shoot north of 65% from the free throw line that would be icing on the cake.

Net Income

Simmons returns to the form he displayed in the 2019-20 when he was All-NBA, All-Defensive Team, the NBA steals leader and an All-Star. That’s the last season in which he was not troubled by back pain or mental health concerns. That would translate to a 16/8/8 season.

Lucas Kaplan

The best case scenario for Ben Simmons in this upcoming season is that he’s a productive player who helps the Brooklyn Nets win basketball games that they would otherwise lose without him. Of course. How does Simmons get there, exactly?

It starts with making it through a regular season without the nagging injuries that have taken a toll on both his body and brain dating back to his days in Philly. Simmons can’t afford to spend half the season “returning to action” after days and weeks off. These injuries happen to every NBA player, but Simmons needs to establish a rhythm early in the season where he’s playing high-leverage minutes every night.

From there, Simmons has to go full-throttle. Look at this finish:

Not only does Simmons utilize contact to get to the rim, but he finishes high up on the glass, resembling that special, 6’10” athlete we all marveled at earlier in his career. If Simmons reaches his best case scenario, he’ll stuff the stat-sheet and utilize the threat of interior scoring to then make high-level passes, all while playing hounding defense. That only happens if Simmons is able to exert his body to the fullest, unencumbered by worries of injury or, crucially, going to the free-throw line.

What’s the worst case scenario for Ben Simmons in 2023-2024 (other than season-ending injuries)?

Collin Helwig

Those of you who have read my work or follow me on Twitter know that I can be pretty pessimistic even without a “worst case scenario” question in play, so bear with me here. Anytime there’s dialogue about a guy’s heart not being in, an early retirement is something I can’t help but consider if we’re really considering the worst worst case scenarios. Simmons is clearly into the fashion game. There’s an abundance of money there and he’ll have an easier time than most getting started with such a large spotlight on him. Those 7.3 million Instagram followers will be handy as well. It’d be a heartbreaking end for real hoop heads, and one that I’m praying doesn’t come true — but if you lost your love for the game, had nagging pain, and knew you could make hundreds of millions in the fashion industry, wouldn’t you consider going down that path too? Everything we’ve heard about Simmons this summer is telling us he wants to play for the Nets, but again, I’m not exactly Mr. Positive and this is my “ultimate nightmare” vision.

Net Income

Simmons is physically healthy but his confidence is sapped after three years of uncertainty and insecurity. Playing consistently in front of 18,000 fans remains an issue and Nets have to consider moving him, possibly including a first rounder to facilitate things.

Lucas Kaplan

Would it really be shocking if we eventually look back at Simmons’ last couple seasons as the beginning of the end? Mr. Income spelled out the doomsday scenario quite well: Career-threatening injuries (fingers crossed) aside, if Simmons simply can’t turn up the athleticism to full-gear, he doesn’t have many tools to compensate.

This isn’t to say Simmons isn’t still a multi-talented player, but rather that a lack of perimeter shooting means his once-elite playmaking and defensive skills are drastically hampered if they’re simply crammed into a below-average athlete who doesn’t look to score.

If all of Simmons’ attacks to the basket look like this…

…then we may be in trouble. Almost zero lift off the ground, fading away from the basket, seemingly trying to avoid any chance of contact that could send Simmons to the line.

However, I suppose the worst case scenario is that Simmons gives up trying to score altogether, and is content to simply screen and provide dribble-handoffs for a Nets roster that needs more than just a pat on the back to consistently generate good offense.

What are your realistic expectations for Ben Simmons in 2023-2024?

Collin Helwig

Back stuff is tricky and I can assume getting your confidence back after everything Simmons has been through is even trickier. For that reason, I expect Simmons to get off to a slow start even with Marc Spears reporting that he’s as healthy as ever. However, I think everyone has been quick to forget that Simmons just turned 27 years old. You’ll never be able to get stock in a young, 3x All-Star for any cheaper than what most are valuing Simmons at right now. For that reason I think he still surprises the masses, likely with an effective second half to the 2023-24 season where he dances around those 15/7/7 averages for several weeks. He’ll still leave us in a similar spot as we’re in this summer — looking for more and wondering if we’ll get it — but with a bit more evidence that suggests a full return to his peak-self is attainable.


I’m at the far end of optimism and believe he’s capable of getting beyond his issues, physically and mentally. At 27, in his prime, he plays more than 65 games, averages 14/8/8 and is a defensive stalwart. Oh yeah, and he doubles his career 3-point output, hitting 10 of them.

Lucas Kaplan

I fear the Simmons minutes offensively will not be as strong as they were early last season, given the departure of two of the best offensive players in franchise history, and replacing guys who thrived on running around handoffs like Patty Mills and Joe Harris with worse shooters. I don’t think Simmons will be able to play in clutch time for a while, especially on nights where Dennis Smith Jr. or Lonnie Walker have it going from the field. Nic Claxton is simply too good to bench, and it’s not often that NBA teams can finish games with two non-shooters.

With that said, I’m cautiously optimistic Simmons’ production steadily increases this season, buoyed by his one constant, the ability to read the floor like a flipbook and make the right pass:

Playing on a team with much less spotlight should help too, as Simmons has become enough of a forgotten man to where his play is more of a side note to the Brooklyn Nets. Much different than last season, when he was the X-factor, the potential glue of a championship team already equipped with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

My prediction: Simmons is an adequate 6th-or-so-best player on a team on the fringe of the playoff hunt, which is where I expect the Nets to end up. Brooklyn won’t be able to count on him immediately of course, but he becomes a trusted 25-minute-a-night guy, depending on the matchup, by the All-Star Break.

Bonus Round: ProfessorB Speaks

The award-winning social scientist, the brains of ND, ProfessorB, has gifted us his brief but poignant insight on what the 2024 edition of the Ben Simmons Experience may offer:

I think the best case could be very good, though less good than with KD and Kyrie, who could better cover his weaknesses. The worst case could be very close to zero, and reasonable is a question only his doctors can answer intelligently.

And there we have it. After 1700 words, the simple answer is: We really don’t know what the heck kind of ballplayer Ben Simmons will be this upcoming season! That’s why they play the games! But boy it’d be nice if the Australian once-prodigy can get out there and make some highlight passes, play some lockdown defense, win some games, and truly enjoy his time as a Brooklyn Net.