Oh, no. It happened again.
The 76ers announced Tuesday that rookie guard Zhaire Smith suffered a foot injury during a development camp in Las Vegas. Smith will need to undergo surgery for a Jones fracture in his left foot, according to Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania.
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. https://t.co/VT0RVpZ9oi
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 7, 2018
There is no way to know how long Smith will be sidelined — this same kind of fracture forced Ben Simmons to sit out his entire rookie year — but this is yet another brutal blow to a promising Sixers rookie. The first-year curse is starting to enter “Madden” cover territory.
Don’t believe it? Let’s examine the recent history . . .
2013 — The 76ers acquire Nerlens Noel in a draft-day trade with the Pelicans. Noel, who tore his left ACL toward the end of his only season at Kentucky, misses his entire rookie year recovering from knee surgery. Following a number of complaints about his fit and minutes, Noel is sent to the Mavericks ahead of the 2017 trade deadline.
2014-15 — Arguably the top prospect in his class, Joel Embiid sits out two possible rookie seasons with foot issues before finally making his debut in 2016. He plays 31 games before suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee. He is shut down for the rest of the 2016-17 campaign. Embiid averages 22.9 points and 11.0 rebounds in 63 games the next season as an All-Star center.
2015 — After being selected with the No. 3 overall pick, Jahlil Okafor jumps right into the starting lineup for an extremely young Sixers squad. He misses 29 games during his rookie season and another 32 games as an NBA sophomore. With Embiid clearly emerging as the frontcourt star of the future and Okafor’s playing time and value dwindling, Philadelphia’s front office eventually trades Okafor to the Nets before the calendar flips on the 2017-18 season.
2016 — Yet another foot fracture forces a Sixers rookie to sit. This time it’s top pick Ben Simmons, who is able to bounce back and win the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year award after averaging 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds over 81 games.
2017 — Well, this is a weird one. Markelle Fultz’s summer league experience ends early after an ankle injury. The former Washington star then re-emerges at training camp with a completely different (and uncomfortable) shooting form. Fultz misses 68 games with a shoulder issue, which may or may not have caused the change in form. Fultz’s trainer, Drew Hanlen, continues to work with Fultz on relearning how to shoot ahead of the 2018-19 season.
2018 — The Sixers select Villanova star Mikal Bridges at No. 10, then send him to the Suns in exchange for Zhaire Smith and a future first-rounder. Smith suffers a Jones fracture in his left foot in August, forcing him to undergo surgery with no immediate timetable for a return to the court.
That’s just rough. Hopefully Smith won’t be down for long.
Is there a real curse here? Look, I’m not all that superstitious, but . . .