The Philadelphia 76ers have long been looking for a star player to turn their program around. The ball club had the number one pick in the June draft and selected highly-touted prospect Ben Simmons, from LSU. The expectations ran high for the 20-year-old, Australian prospect. During his short summer league appearance Simmons impressed averaging over 7 rebounds and nearly 6 assists in his two summer league games.
However, Simmons averaged only eight points in those two games. This led some to question if he was capable of carrying a struggling team to the promise land. Simmons was supposed to be getting help this season from another young superstar, Nerlens Noel. Noel was drafted with the sixth pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013 draft; he was later acquired by the 76ers via trade. The promising young talent has suddenly entered the Sixers in playoff talks.
Simmons made his preseason debut against the Boston Celtics, another young team on the rise. With only minutes left in the game Simmons went up for a layup and came down awkwardly on his right foot. He attempted to walk off the floor by himself, however, when he was unable to do so, he had to be helped off by two of his teammates. It was hoped to only be a cramp in his lower leg but tuned out to be a fractured bone in Simmons’ right foot. The injury required surgery and Simmons is expected to be out until mid-January.
This is a devastating blow to the Sixers fan base as they have seen their last two first round picks suffer season-ending injuries. Jahlil Okafor, drafted in 2015, suffered a torn meniscus and missed nearly half of his rookie season. The previous year the Sixers lost rookie Joel Embiid to numerous foot injuries, all of which required surgery. These caused Embiid to miss the following two seasons. His presence on the inside should definitely be a help to the young team this year.
Simmons’ running mate Nerlens Noel has also suffered a minor injury. He is to undergo surgery to address an inflamed plica above his left knee. The injury is not season ending and should not cause any long-term problems; it is to simply relieve some pain. No timetable is set for his return, but he is not expected to miss any substantial time.
The young team is definitely looking to improve upon previous years’ performances as they have accumulated a record of 81 and 247 in four years. The injuries in the City of Brotherly have certainly been a huge contributor to this atrocious record.
The team has now lost its three previous first round picks to long term injuries. When the young team, filled with talent, gets everyone healthy could they manage to be in the playoff race in a weak Eastern Conference? The question will remain as the injuries continue to handicap the Philadelphia 76ers.