Since LeBron James took his talents to Los Angeles this summer, the Eastern Conference seems to finally be up for grabs. The Philadelphia 76ers are considered to be one of the top contenders, but they might be without their star rookie… again.
Perhaps it is bad luck. Maybe it is just an unfortunate coincidence. Whatever it might be, former Texas Tech star guard Zhaire Smith will have to learn to #TrustTheProcess after suffering a left foot injury in Las Vegas.
Smith, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is now on his way back to Philadelphia for further evaluation after injuring his foot during Tim Grgurich’s development camp.
At 6-foot-4, the 19-year-old shooting guard with major bounce and high upside averaged 7.7 points on 32 percent shooting, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in six appearances for the Sixers in this year’s NBA Summer League.
Smith, who was traded from the Phoenix Suns to Philadelphia for No. 10 overall pick and former Villanova standout Mikal Bridges on draft night, also becomes next on the Sixers rookie injury list.
It is truly the first-round pick plague in Philly.
Former Kentucky star center and 2013 No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury. The next first-round selection, 2014 No. 3 overall pick Joel Embiid, missed his first two seasons with a broken bone in his right foot.
The following year, 2015 No. 3 overall pick Jahilil Okafor played in 53 games before suffering a small tear in his right meniscus and was shut down for the rest of the season.
In 2016, No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured his right foot and missed his rookie season, and then 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz suffered a shoulder injury, and a weird case of the yips, and only saw the floor in 17 total games during the 2017-18 season.
With Smith’s injury, that means the organization has had a first-round pick injured six years in a row.
As a bonus, you can throw in Wichita State guard Landry Shamet, the No. 26 pick this year, after he missed the majority of the Summer League with an ankle injury.
Smith, who averaged 11.3 points in his lone season with the Red Raiders, signed a $2.5 million contract this summer with a two-year guarantee.
And if the diagnosis is bad, Smith’s entire first year could be spent as a spectator on the bench.