Ben Simmons had been off the court for nearly two years before he made his debut for the Nets in the preseason. Between trades, contract negotiations, and then a back injury, Simmons had tumultuous past two seasons. Because he has been out of the game for that long, it is no surprise that Simmons has had a lackluster performance on offense. However, we have seen Simmon grab his lower back in pain on a few occasions, most recently in Wednesday’s game against the Bucks. Simmons hasn’t been on a minutes restriction and played 34 minutes in Wednesday’s game. He wasn’t taken out of the game after he was seen grabbing his back and so far he hasn’t been listed on the injury report. 

While all of that is a good sign, his pain is obviously still lingering and we can’t help but wonder if his offensive woes are a result of the back injury. Simmons had a microdiscectomy procedure on his spine in May, which came with a 3-4 month rehab time. That means his early October return was right on schedule. Back injuries are notoriously finicky and tend to be aggravated easily, so it’s possible Simmons is dealing with lingering pain or stiffness that is affecting his play. The smart move for the Nets would be to keep a close eye on Simmons’ minutes, giving him time off on back-to-backs, otherwise the irritation will only get worse.