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The Philadelphia 76ers‘ first-round pick, guard Zhaire Smith, has been diagnosed with a fractured left foot after suffering the injury Monday during a developmental camp, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.
Charania added: “Smith had MRI/imaging in Philadelphia today revealing a Jones fracture—with surgery scheduled for later this week, league sources said. He also will see another specialist in Philadelphia.”
It has become something of a rite of passage for Sixers first-round picks to miss significant time in their rookie seasons.
In 2013-14, Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie year due to a torn ACL. The team’s 2014-15 first-rounders, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, didn’t play until the 2016-17 season (Embiid missed two years due to a foot injury, while Saric was overseas). In 2015-16, Jahlil Okafor missed 29 games (meniscus injury). In 2016-17, Ben Simmons missed his entire rookie campaign with a Jones fracture, while Furkan Korkmaz spent the year overseas. And last year, Markelle Fultz battled an injured shoulder and shooting yips, appearing in just 14 contests.
This summer, Landry Shamet had his Summer League cut short with a right ankle sprain, and Smith appears set to miss significant time.
Since the 2013-14 season, the Sixers first-round pick who has played in the most games during his rookie season was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, with 69 appearances in 2016-17. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason.
Smith’s timetable remains unclear, and he’s yet to meet with Sixers specialists, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.
But as Neubeck wrote, “The usual quote on recovery time you’ll hear is about six to eight weeks (and frequently ends up longer when accounting for return to NBA-level fitness) but as we saw in Simmons’ case, a lot of it can come down to how conservatively the team wants to handle the problem.”
It’s a big loss for the Sixers. While Smith is considered something of a project, he was still expected to earn regular minutes on the wing for the team this offseason behind players like Robert Covington and J.J. Redick. If nothing else, his potential as a stifling on-ball defender left him with a likely role to play in the 2018-19 season.
After trading Luwawu-Cabarrot and Justin Anderson this offseason, the Sixers have less depth on the wing. Fultz seeing far more playing time will help, while Wilson Chandler, Korkmaz and perhaps Shake Milton—the team’s second-round pick who signed on a two-way contract—could play a major role off the bench as well.