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What Does Surgery Mean For Ben Simmons? (2022 Fantasy Basketball)

Ben Simmons

After an entire season off and offseason back surgery, will Ben Simmons be able to return to form in Brooklyn next year?

Ben Simmons’ (PG – BKN) skill set had obvious room for improvement, but now will he even make it back to that?

The short answer is “Yes, for some time.” The Nets are reporting a three-to-four month recovery window, which is pretty reasonable based on prior cases in the NBA. Nearly 90% of players make it back to starting regular-season games, so we’re not overly concerned that this is a career-ender.

What we’re really considering are the effects on his style of play and long-term durability. The surgery itself is minimally invasive and involves removing a piece of disc tissue that slipped out of place. That tissue is pushing on one of the nerves in his spine, so removing it is a reliably successful cure for the pain that he’s been battling. By the start of the ’22-23 regular season, we expect Simmons to bounce back to his peak athletic levels, and continue to thrive on defense and the fast break. That’s the good news.

The bad stems from the fact that this disc tissue serves as a shock-absorber between the bones of the spine. When you have to remove part of it for cases like Simmons, that area has less protection left. As a result, it sees higher rates of wear. Although the sample sizes are admittedly not huge, athletes in the SportsMedAnalytics database have shorter careers and a higher risk of re-injury down the road after this surgery (microdiscectomy).

What does it all mean for Simmons? Over the next three-to-five years, we’re probably still looking at a hyper-athletic defensive stud without any major durability risk. After that, the data makes us worry that he’s prone to further injury to his spine. It’s not uncommon for athletes who undergo one microdiscectomy to eventually have multiple surgeries – just look at Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Rob Gronkowski for examples. Hopefully, that’s not in the books for Simmons, but we’re not going to be betting big on him past the next ~four years.


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