With 2014 first round pick Joel Embiid finally ready to play after missing the last two seasons due to foot injuries, things appeared to be turning around for the Philadelphia 76ers. It took less than a week into traning camp for head coach Brett Brown to have to deal with news that will have a significant impact on his rotation.
6-foot-10 forward Ben Simmons, the team’s first overall pick in June’s NBA Draft, suffered a broken bone in his right foot during practice Friday as reported by Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Here’s what you need to know about Simmons’ injury and where he was projected to fit into the 76ers’ plans for the upcoming season.
1. Simmons broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot during a team scrimmage
Per a release from the franchise, Simmons suffered the injury during the team’s final scrimmage at Stockton University. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the scrimmage, with an X-ray and MRI taken of both Simmons’ ankle and foot. The images revealed a broken fifth metatarsal, which is the long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little (or pinky) toe.
2. Simmons’ recovery timetable is unknown, leaving Philadelphia short a big man for the time being
On Tuesday the 76ers announced that the surgery to repair the acute Jones fracture was successful, and it is unknown as to when he’ll be able to return to the court. His injury occurred at a time when Joel Embiid was back on the court, a positive sign for the franchise given his past health issues. Embiid, drafted in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft, has yet to play in an NBA regular season game due to foot injuries.
Embiid underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot just before the 2014 NBA Draft, and the recovery period sidelined him for the entire 2014-15 season. And in July 2015 Embiid re-broke the bone, resulting in his missing the entire 2015-16 campaign.
3. Simmons was a first-team All-American in his lone season at LSU
Born in Australia, where his father Dave played professionally for more than a decade, the 6-foot-10 Simmons attended Monteverde Academy in Florida before playing his one season of college basketball at LSU. The top prospect in the Class of 2015, Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game for the Tigers last season.
As a result he was named SEC Freshman of the Year, earning first team All-SEC honors as well. Simmons received national honors as well, as he was a consensus first team All-American and won the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top freshman. However the individual success didn’t result in team success, as the inconsistent Tigers went 19-14 and did not play in a postseason tournament.
4. Philadelphia has lost 63 games or more in each of the last three seasons
With Embiid’s return to the court, Dario Saric signing a deal to join the franchise two years after Philadelphia acquired his rights from Orlando, and the addition of Simmons, things appeared to be looking up for a franchise that has struggled mightily in recent years. Philadelphia’s last winning season came in 2011-12, a lockout-shortened season in which the Doug Collins-led 76ers went 35-31 and reached the second round of the playoffs.
After going 34-48 in 2012-13, Philadelphia has lost 63 games or more in each of the last three seasons. Losers of 63 games in 2013-14 and 64 the following year, the 76ers finished last season with a 10-72 record. The NBA record for fewest wins in a single season is nine, a mark set by the 1972-73 76ers.
5. During a radio interview Friday, head coach Brett Brown stated that Simmons would be one of his starters for the team’s preseason opener
During an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia Friday, when the severity of Simmons’ injury was still unknown, Brown stated that Simmons was to be one of his five starters for the 76ers’ preseason opener Tuesday night against the Celtics. Joining him in that projected lineup were free agent signings Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson, Robert Covington and Embiid.
Covington is the only one to have played for Philadelphia last season, as he averaged 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Bayless played last season with the Bucks, averaging 10.4 points and 3.1 assists per contest, and Henderson averaged 8.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game with the Blazers.