A healthy Ben Simmons hopes to return as the Nets’ leading guard in 2023-24

Ben Simmons played in just 42 games with the Nets last season due to knee and back injuries.

New York (AP) – Ben Simmons is set to begin training camp next week without restrictions after two injury-shortened seasons in Brooklyn.

If he stays healthy, Simmons could return to his roots as a point guard.

Nets coach Jack Vaughn said Tuesday that the former All-Star will play 5-on-5 this summer and will have an expanded role if he can avoid injuries.

Simmons hasn’t played since the All-Star break last season, slowed by a sore left knee and forced out early by a nerve injury in his back. Simmons was largely out of the rotation before then, and Vaughn has now said through their discussions this summer that the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft didn’t have the strength to do some of the things his coach wanted him to do. After reoperation the previous season.

„But the things I’m asking him to do going forward, I think he can do physically right now,” Vaughn said.

Simmons still considers himself a lead guard, the position he played while earning three All-Star selections in Philadelphia. He played forward or backup center last season in Brooklyn, where Kyrie Irving was the point guard when Simmons arrived in the February 2022 trade for James Harden.

With Irving now in Dallas and Simmons back at full strength, Vaughn said their agreement is that Simmons can play the way he wants if he shows he can handle it.

„If Ben can continue to play a certain way, there’s no doubt he’s going to have the basketball in his hands,” Vaughn said. „You have to guard him with the basketball in his hands.”

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