Injuries to Sixers' 2018 draft class just the latest in team's string of rookie ailments

Injuries to Sixers' 2018 draft class just the latest in team's string of rookie ailments

Even by basketball gods standards, this is pretty cruel.

You already know the Sixers’ long history with injured rookies. Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons all missed what was expected to be their first professional seasons with injuries. Jahlil Okafor didn’t make it the entire way through his rookie campaign. And of course, Markelle Fultz sat out a huge portion of last season.

In total, the Sixers’ top selections in each draft since the team started “the process” have missed a combined 343 games during what was supposed to be their rookie seasons.

Now this.

Zhaire Smith, the No. 16 overall pick in June who was acquired in a draft-night trade with the Phoenix Suns, suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot during a development camp in Las Vegas. He’s scheduled for surgery later this week after meeting with a Sixers specialist.

Add him to the list. Not just the one above. Toss Smith into the group of Sixers rookies that were injured … just this summer. 

Smith joins fellow 2018 draft picks Landry Shamet and Shake Milton, who also found themselves sidelined after being selected in June. Shamet, the No. 26 pick in the draft, suffered a sprained right ankle in the Sixers' first MGM Resorts NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas and was immediately shut down for the remainder of the event. Second-round selection Milton never even had the opportunity to suit up in Sin City as he was ruled out with a stress fracture in his back.

Coming into any season dealing with an ailment is difficult, especially if you are a first-year player. You already have to learn a new playbook, teammates, city and so much more all while adjusting to the highest level of basketball competition in the world.

But, as the Sixers continue to find out, those other experiences take a back seat if the player can’t actually step on the floor.

“I just want to get healthy. That’s the first thing,” Shamet said after his summer league stint ended following just 12 minutes of action. “Give myself some time to get this ankle right because without that there is no on the court or any of that. Just get healthy and go from there.”

Of course, none of these injuries have turned out to be career-threatening and the players typically come back to display the form that justified them being chosen in the first place.

However, it’s still crazy how the franchise continually has had to deal with guys enduring setbacks just as they’ve achieved their dreams of reaching the NBA.

Well, maybe crazy isn’t the right word that starts with the letter C.

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Tobias Harris keeps the Sixers entertained on their bus ride to Toronto

Tobias Harris keeps the Sixers entertained on their bus ride to Toronto

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday night, we were blessed with a Ben Simmons Instagram Live video of "DJ Tobi," Tobias Harris, on the Sixers’ bus from the airport to the hotel.

“There’s a soul plane and there’s a soul bus. You’re on the soul bus, ya dig?”

DJ Tobi then proceeded to interview all the players, coaches and team personnel who entered the bus, as you can see in the videos below, which do contain profanity. 

“State your name, where are you from and where are you going,” head coach Brett Brown said Tuesday morning, laughing about last night’s bus ride. “And when there is a lull, he's got Spotify hooked up, and he's got some hip hop going on.”

“DJ Tobi,” Matisse Thybulle laughed, struggling to find the words for Harris’ performance. “He was putting on a show for everyone. … It was funny because you were seeing people out of their comfort zone.”

With the rigors of an NBA season, and through all the travel, bus rides and plane rides, the value of that type of team bonding can go underestimated.

“It's team bonding,” Simmons told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “We're a pretty close group. We like to have fun and there are a lot of different characters and personalities on the team. … It's awesome. But that's just who we are as a team, everyone just likes to have fun, everyone has good personalities and means well."

Of course, it’s easier when you’re winning, and the Sixers delivered one of their most impressive defensive performances of the year in their win over Brooklyn, led by Simmons and Thybulle.

“We could carry that good energy over,” Thybulle said of the win over the Nets. “But it definitely help to keeps things light because the travel gets tedious and boring.”

For the Brown, it’s yet another characteristic he’s seen blossom out of Harris.

“Leadership comes in all different forms … and he does it naturally,” Brown said.

“It’s what makes team sport, for me, as enjoyable as it gets, when you can win with people that you respect and trust that care. And this group does.”

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Jameer Nelson, Phil Martelli react to troubling Delonte West video

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Jameer Nelson, Phil Martelli react to troubling Delonte West video

Troubling video surfaced Monday on social media of former Saint Joseph’s great and NBA player Delonte West.

The 36-year-old appeared to get into a physical altercation and then was recorded spewing profanities with his hands behind his back. The video contains inappropriate language.

On Monday night, West’s former college teammate Jameer Nelson and head coach Phil Martelli voiced their concern and offered support.

West has opened up in the past about his battle with bipolar disorder and run-ins with the law. The most notable incident was when he was pulled over in Maryland on a three-wheeled motorcycle and subsequently arrested and charged with speeding and two counts of carrying a handgun.

When he was on Hawk Hill, West starred during his sophomore and junior seasons alongside Nelson. The duo led St. Joe’s on an incredible run in 2004. The Hawks were the No. 1 team in the country at one point and earned a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. They lost in a thriller in the Elite 8 to two-seed Oklahoma State.

After choosing to forego his senior season, West was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 24th overall pick. He last played in the NBA with the Mavericks in 2012 and his professional career ended in 2015 after a brief stint in the G League.