Ben Simmons’ franchise-altering foot injury is taking an expected turn. The hoped-for Philadelphia 76ers star and No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft will require surgery to correct a broken bone in his right foot.
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He is expected to be out possibly into the year 2017, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman:
While this is unfortunate news, ESPN’s Marc Stein passed along a potential silver lining. Simmons’ injury was a freak one, and not the result of his 19-year old body being unfit to carry the weight:
Sources told ESPN on Saturday that doctors involved believe Simmons suffered an acute injury — caused by landing on another player’s foot — and not a stress reaction, and that the Sixers are supportive of a conservative timetable for his recovery.
Rumors hit early in Sixers training camp that Simmons reported to the team 33 pounds heavier, fit with added muscle, than he appeared during NBA Summer League play in July. The notion beggared belief, as even teenagers on a workout jag would find it nigh on impossible to add on that much bulk in such a short amount of time. Stein reports that Simmons only showed up to camp four pounds heavier than observed during the summer.
Still, any added heft would put the delicate feet of any burgeoning NBA prospect in varying degrees of peril. The type of bone fracture Simmons repeatedly suffered ended the careers of Bill Walton and Yao Ming, it frightened the hell out of the Chicago Bulls during Michael Jordan’s second season (when he missed 64 games with the same break), and it delayed the rise of All-Star center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, drafted all the way back in 2014, still has yet to play an NBA game after missing two full seasons with foot fractures. Center Nerlens Noel missed his rookie year in 2013-14 with an ACL tear, and Jahlil Okafor (last year’s rookie center) missed the end of 2015-16 after left knee surgery. The Sixers have seen this dance before.
For Simmons to break his foot in a mishap, and not the endgame of a 6-10, 244-pound athlete coming down hard, is a good sign. The 76ers weren’t heading anywhere this season anyway with its three raw rookies (including Embiid and swingman Dario Saric), and though Simmons badly needed the basketball reps after a truncated lone season at LSU, the idea that his team won’t have to worry about his frame handling the weight is an optimistic one.
It won’t make life any easier for Sixers fans that have waited out this unending rebuilding project, but there is a possibility that one significant worry is off the table for Ben Simmons.
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