Did Ben Simmons hint at a Jan. 27 NBA debut?

The No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, small forward Ben Simmons, hasn’t played a game yet for the Philadelphia 76ers, but it seems his debut is coming soon.

The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t exactly terrible anymore. They’re 13-26 on the season and have become one of the best watches in the NBA thanks to rookie center Joel Embiid. We’re also getting to the point of the season when 2016 No. 1 overall draft pick, small forward Ben Simmons, could be making his NBA debut. 76ers Twitter thinks it has connected the dots on when Simmons will play his first NBA regular season game.

Shortly before the start of the season, Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot. This has sidelined him for the entire first half of season. Simmons’ head coach Brett Brown hinted that a late January return date would be probable, but later backed off his initial statement.

That retraction by Brown quieted everybody about Simmons’ NBA debut on late Tuesday night. On Jan. 17, the NBA announced it was changing its nationally televised game on ESPN on Jan. 27. This move bumped a the Bulls and the Head in favor of the Rockets and the 76ers.

While Wade playing his former team was worthy of a nationally televised game, this abrupt switch might have to do with Simmons making his NBA debut against  James Harden. Simmons posted this photo on his Instagram account shortly after news broke of the 76ers’ next nationally televised game.

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A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:36pm PST

It’s complete speculation at this point, but Jan. 27 could very well be Simmons’ debut. However, it could be purely coincidental. Philadelphia has five games before that primetime tip against the Rockets. Maybe Simmons takes to the court before Jan. 27 after all.

The NBA may have also decided to swap games because Wade’s Bulls haven’t played well of late and the Heat are one of the worst teams in the NBA. Add in that Harden is an MVP candidate and Embiid is a clear front-runner for Rookie of the Year and the switch makes sense regardless of Simmons’ health.

Now that Philadelphia is done tanking, NBA fans will get to see Simmons sooner rather than later. Philadelphia will be pragmatic in deciding to put Simmons into a game. Near 7-footers with foot injuries are never a good thing. His debut may come after Jan. 27, but don’t expect the 76ers to hold him out for all of 2016-17. He’ll play at some point this season. The only question now is how soon.

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