The Philadelphia 76ers have been good at keeping players out of full-contact activity until they’re fully healed, but they need to keep it going.
The Philadelphia 76ers have done well over the past few years in the realm of injury recovery. At first glance, it might not seem like that to an outsider, but they’ve definitely perfected the art of waiting.
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Looking at the fact that Joel Embiid went through two seasons of being injured, it doesn’t seem like the Sixers waiting for injuries to fully heal before putting players on the floor paid off, but some things are simply out of anyone’s control.
Really, in all realms of the radical rebuilding process the team has gone through under both Sam Hinkie and Bryan Colangelo, patience has been an effective part of the process. Moving forward, that’s something that needs to carry with the team, despite the idea that the team is trying to move past the dreary part of the rebuild.
Especially this season, fans and executives alike need to not get antsy over the anticipation surrounding the future of the team. Let’s get one thing straight — the future of the team is bright, no matter which way you splice it.
The team has several big-name rookies (Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Ben Simmons are the biggest names, in case you forgot) and also have many young players that look to be the up-and-coming class of the NBA.
Additionally, the Sixers still have draft picks to use. The Los Angeles Lakers owe them a first round pick, and the Sacramento Kings will have to swap their pick with the Sixers this season if the Sacramento pick ends up being better than Philadelphia’s.
Looking at where this all started, we’re about three years deep in the rebuild. We have not seen yet what we can call a winning season, only pieces that seem to be able to build a winning season. Unfortunately, however, we have yet to see those pieces come together at the same time on an NBA floor. And there’s indications that we may have to wait even one more season.
Ben Simmons recently underwent surgery for a fracture in his foot, and his recovery time is going to be at least three months, and possibly more. There are rumors floating around that his agent might push for the Sixers to keep him out of the full season, rather than trying to put him on the floor in January of February.
This is devastating to fans because many bought season tickets, or partial season ticket plans in order to see Simmons play in person. The rest of the crowd certainly wants to be able to flip on the television on any given night and see Simmons carrying the Sixers to some wins throughout the year.
What the team — as well as fans — needs to remember going forward is that it’s not all about the wins. Eventually, yes, wins become important. But this season was never about the wins, and Simmons coming back partway through the season will not offer the team enough wins to do them any good — such as putting them in the playoffs.
In fact, more wins at that point will probably end up doing them worse, giving them worse chances at the top overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery.
So, should the Sixers keep Simmons out for the entire year? There doesn’t seem to be a downside to that. Yes, letting Simmons play alongside his teammates in real game situations allows for chemistry to develop. Certainly, they can develop some of that in practice, however.
Additionally, Simmons not playing with this specific team this season is not at all detrimental to the progress of the roster development for the next decade or so. How many of these players will be with the team for that long? Probably not many.
The only locks (and of course, this is way too early of a prediction) for the roster over the next decade or so would really be Embiid and Simmons, as long as their careers pan out how we want them to, and as long as the Sixers can re-sign them when their contracts are up.
Additionally, the Sixers will also probably like to retain either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor, whichever the team decides not to trade.
In all reality, saving Simmons for next season offers many positives, and not many negatives. He can still participate in practices and scrimmages with the team, still gets to learn from the coaches, and also could go to games and learn from the sidelines.
The recovery time from this specific fifth metatarsal fracture is said to be, on average, about 3 months. That puts Simmons back in the game in mid-January, in which case it might just make sense to save him for after the All-Star break.
While keeping him out for the whole year doesn’t offer that much of an upside on preventing re-inury later in his career, it does give Simmons the time to work closely with the training staff on his mechanics and nail down his shooting ability before next season and before any real game play.