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Ben Simmons Sought Out Kevin Durant For Advice Following Surgery

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Ben Simmons needed advice.

Hurting – both physically and emotionally – the Australian phenom craved some reassurance that the October 4 surgery for a Jones fracture of his fifth metatarsal was something that could be overcome.
So who better to ask about triumphing over similar injury adversity than an NBA MVP and one of the purest scorers in today’s game?”

“First guy I did speak to was KD [Kevin Durant],” Simmons told media before the 76ers’ home opener on Wednesday night. “He had something similar [and] he just said, ‘Listen, get advice from everybody and [you’ll] be good.’ It’s good to reach out to people like that that have gone through it.”

Durant, then with the Oklahoma City Thunder, suffered the injury to his right foot just before the start of the 2014-15 NBA season, but his foot required three surgeries in six months before he returned to full health. The Sixers hope that won’t be the case with Simmons.

Since the injury, there has been much speculation that Simmons may miss the entire season,  and just last Friday at Sixers practice, head coach Brett Brown intimated that Simmons would return in January – that would mark three months since the injury, but later backtracked on his statement.

“I was just getting excited about how soon he might be able to come back,” Brown said. “There is so much speculation and dates as a coach you sort of want to hear what you want to hear at a time. I did mention a January hopeful return. That is premature. […] That is a coach doing a lot more wishing than receiving instruction. So we will play this out. Everything is on track with his rehabilitation.”

Simmons, too,  maintained on there is no return schedule yet.

“I’ll come back when I’m ready,” he said. “There’s no timetable to getting healthy. I’m just working hard to get back and as soon as they tell me I can play, I’ll get out there.”

Simmons’ absence from the Sixers lineup clouded an otherwise optimistic beginning to 2016-17 for a franchise that has struggled in recent years. Center Joel Embiid made his debut against the Thunder, and there is hope that a young Philadelphia core consisting of Simmons, Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor could blossom into a force in the Eastern Conference.

Despite the setback, Simmons feels that the team can do well this season.

“I think we can still be good,” he said. “Obviously those guys, they’re losing a player, but they’re still players themselves. They’ve still got to go out there [and compete]. We’ve got a young team, and I think we can do well.”

A best case scenario for Simmons would be a January return, but in the meantime Simmons is looking at the positive side of things. He admitted he will use his time on the sidelines to absorb how the NBA game is played, and how he can adjust his game to the professional level.

“It’s not the best start to my NBA career, but now I’m looking at it as a positive,” Simmons said. “It gives me time to learn about the game; the systems; offense; defense.
It’s a good time for me to work on my shooting, plays, everything about the game, and work on [learning] the scouting reports.

“It gives me time to work on my body, flexibility. There’s a lot of things I’m looking at as a positive.”

Given he won’t be cleared to resume any basketball activities for some time, Simmons is focused on rehab, and being around the team as much as possible. He says he’s at the practice facility daily, and it’s important to him for his teammates to see him putting in the work coming back from the injury.

“I’m still a part of the team. I’m in there every day rehabbing – my teammates see me in there putting in the work and they’re doing the same,” he said. “The only thing I can do is rehab, and that’s what I’m willing to do.”


Feature image via: USA Today Sports

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