The Philadelphia 76ers look like they’ll be one of two halfway decent teams in the Eastern Conference next year—and, like the Celtics, they are stocked with a whole bunch of young dudes who look like they’ll be able to keep the team good for a while. One such young dude is Zhaire Smith, for whom the Sixers traded would-be hometown hero Mikal Bridges on draft night. As is custom for Sixers rookies, Smith has suffered a severe injury. The Sixers initially announced this morning that Smith had suffered a foot injury, the severity of which was unknown until Shams Charania reported this afternoon that the foot was broken.
Smith will soon become part of the hallowed line of Sixers first-round picks that have missed big chunks of their rookie seasons. Nerlens Noel (2013-14), Joel Embiid (2014-15 and 2015-16) and Ben Simmons (2016-17) all missed their entire rookie seasons, while Markelle Fultz was severely limited last year. Ominously, both Embiid and Simmons were hampered by broken feet, so who knows how quickly Smith will be able to get back in the swing of things.
The Sixers’ medical staff is notoriously mysterious and opaque, so be prepared for months of misdirection and half-updates on Smith’s condition. His foot could be gone, and the Sixers would say simply that “Smith’s left foot situation will be evaluated.” On the other hand, the lone Process-era draft pick to play a significant chunk of his rookie season was Jahlil Okafor, so perhaps this is somehow a good sign for Sixers fans.