Call it "The Curse of Sam Hinkie." The Philadelphia 76ers apparently aren’t allowed to have nice things for the way they parted ways with their former general manager, and the latest victim of the curse is No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons.
On Friday, the team announced that Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot after rolling his ankle during practice — an injury that reportedly will require surgery.
It’s the same bone fracture suffered by NBA big men such as Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez and Hall of Famer Yao Ming, among others. The Simmons injury comes just as hope was starting to bloom in Philadelphia — 2014 first-round pick Joel Embiid is finally healthy after battling through back and foot injuries that predate his NBA career. Embiid still hasn’t made his professional debut two years after the Sixers selected the center with the No. 3 overall pick, but hopes are high that he’ll be able to show off the skills that convinced Philly to draft a player with significant injury concerns in the first place.
Simmons showed up to Las Vegas Summer League in July significantly heavier than his playing weight at LSU, leading some to fear that the fracture was the result of stress on the rookie’s body. According to ESPN, however, the Sixers believe Simmons suffered "an acute injury" when he landed on another player.
Simmons’ injury will have a significant impact on the NBA’s Rookie of the Year race in 2016-17. The Sixers rookie opened as the betting favorite to win the award on Bovada.com at 13/4, a significant edge over Pelicans guard Buddy Hield (11/2). At the time of this writing, Bovada had removed its Rookie of the Year lines until Simmons’ status became more certain.