With the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Sixers drafted Ben Simmons, but what if his foot broke before the NBA Draft?
The Philadelphia 76ers had the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and with that selection, they were potentially drafting damaged goods. Joel Embiid has played six games now in the NBA, and it will always be up for debate wether or not the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks made a mistake by passing on the 7-foot, 2-inch center from Cameroon.
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Some may think the Sixers were wrong for selecting a player who just suffered a navicular bone fracture, days before the most important date of his athletic career. So far, the 2016-2017 season is providing proof that Philadelphia may have made a very swell decision.
After all the scrutiny that Sam Hinkie faced for drafting the social media phenom, what if the same exact thing happened again? What if Ben Simmons, the Philadelphia 76ers’ first overall pick in the 2016 draft, suffered the Jones fracture at the draft combine, which he declined to participate in, instead of at Stockton University. Bryan Colangelo, who is seemingly trying to distance himself from Hinkie as much as possible, would have had an interesting decision to make. Does he follow the process that came before him, or pass on the 6-foot, 10-inch Australian for Duke University’s Brandon Ingram?
The former Duke freshman, who was drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, is currently averaging 6.1 points per game on 36.7 percent from the field, along with 3.6 rebounds per game. His start may be slower than some expected, and his role hasn’t been pivotal, but as most experts pointed out, he may have been the best future prospect in the June’s NBA Draft.
The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick 100 percent because of Joel Embiid‘s injury. It can be argued that “The Process” should have been drafted first, even with the broken foot, but he wasn’t; and the Milwaukee Bucks passed on him as well for Jabari Parker. With this said, it’s undeniable that injuries have the capability to plummet draft stock. Ask Nerlens Noel, who was drafted sixth overall in 2013 by the New Orleans Pelicans, shortly before being traded to the Sixers with a first-round draft pick for Jrue Holiday and former Sixer Pierre Jackson. So, what if Ben Simmons broke his foot in late May?
Now, you really can’t blame the guy for not participating in draft combines, nor can you blame him for only working out with one team prior to the draft. History has taught us that a broken bone or a torn ligament before June can change a young man’s legacy. Was Ben Simmons just too good to pass up on, even if this did take place?
Sixers fans were forced to watch Joel Embiid participate on Twitter and Instagram for two full years, instead of banging in the low post against his NBA peers. The excruciating wait was the process’ notary seal. It was the signature of the rebuild. Not to mention,the other guy they drafted in 2014, Dario Saric, played overseas through the longevity of Joel Embiid’s rehabs. Would drafting another tall, big man with a broken foot have been a move Bryan Colangelo was willing to make? Better yet, would Sam Hinkie have made the same decision all over again if given the opportunity?
The future will determine whether or not Brandon Ingram should have been the pick. It wouldn’t be the first time that a tall, skinny forward, drafted second overall (Kevin Durant), was the right choice.
It has been rumored that Ben Simmons will return to basketball activities some time in January. Thankfully, as it currently seems, Sixers fans will not have to wait two years to see Simmons play a regular season basketball game, and Brandon Ingram will continue to wear purple and gold on the west coast. But, imagine — Philadelphia may have been a foot away from another undesirable decision.