Kawhi Leonard makes his return for the Los Angeles Clippers. Oct 3, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) jumps for a layup against Portland Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant (9)during the second quarter at Climate Pledge Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Monday brought many more storylines than the typical day in NBA preseason action. The headliner was the return of four stars to game action.

Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, Kawhi Leonard, and Damian Lillard each played their first NBA game (again, albeit preseason) in hundreds of days.

Simmons — 26 and a three-time All-Star — played his first NBA game in 470 days after a back injury (that led to offseason surgery) and mental health struggles last season.

It was also his first game with the Brooklyn Nets; he was traded by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Nets in the blockbuster deal involving James Harden last season.

Simmons had six points (3-of-6 from the field, 0-2 on free throws), five assists, four rebounds, and one steal in 19 minutes against the Sixers, fittingly. He was part of a Brooklyn starting lineup that included Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Murray — 25 and best-known for his NBA bubble dominance — returned to action for the Denver Nuggets after tearing his ACL in April 2021. His 539-day absence was the longest of these four players.

He played 15 minutes for the Nuggets against the Oklahoma City Thunder, scoring 10 points (4-of-7 from the field, 2-of-3 on threes, 0-1 on free throws) and dishing out two assists. He even hit a buzzer-beater to end the first half.

Monday’s game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers featured the return of Leonard and Lillard.

Leonard — 31 and a two-time NBA Finals MVP — made his return to the Clippers after tearing his ACL in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. He scored 11 points (3-of-8 from the field, 1-of-1 on threes, and 4-of-4 on free throws), with four rebounds, two assists, and two steals over 16 minutes.

Lillard — 32 and a six-time All-Star — last played an NBA game on December 31, 2021 due to abdominal surgery. He scored a game-high 16 points (5-of-13 from the field, 3-of-8 on threes, and 3-of-4 on free throws) over 23 minutes.

Related: Five NBA stars we’re excited to see return this season

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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