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.
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.
CURSE #NUTS— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) August 7, 2018