The 76ers provided an unexpected and troubling update on the condition of rookie Zhaire Smith Thursday afternoon. Smith apparently had a bad allergic reaction to food and required something called a thoracoscopy. Recovery from the procedure, presumably along with whatever required it in the first place, will keep Smith out for a while.
Although some pulmonologists do pleuroscopy, VATS is done by thoracic surgeons. Both procedures are similar to chest tube insertion; a trocar is inserted into an intercostal space through a skin incision, through which a thoracoscope is inserted. Additional incisions permit the use of video cameras and accessory instruments.
I am understanding that to mean that a hole was cut in Smith’s chest and then a little camera was snaked into his abdomen so doctors could have a look around. Apparently something called a “chest tube” is required for a couple days after the procedure, which frankly sounds like something out of a nightmare. This is the second awful health update for Smith since he was drafted—back in early August it was reported that Smith fractured his foot at a Las Vegas developmental camp, and no timetable was set for his return following successful surgery on August 9. Now he’s got a tube sticking out of his chest, so this rookie campaign is just going swimmingly. In fact, this entire 76ers offseason belongs in the garbage.
Five of the last seven Sixers lottery picks—Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Šarić, and Nerlens Noel—missed most or all of their first season after being drafted, for one reason or another. Simmons, Embiid, and Noel all needed time to recover from catastrophic leg injuries; Šarić was stashed in Turkey; Fultz’s shoulder turned into ossobuco and he forgot how to play basketball. In fact, the last two Sixers top picks to play at least 260 minutes the season after they were drafted—Michael Carter-Williams and Jahlil Okafor—turned into pumpkins after promising rookie campaigns. So maybe Smith’s ailment is a good thing? Always look on the bright side, and so forth.