The Sixers' streak of injured rookies continues.
While we don't know the severity of the latest injury yet, Sixers Vice President of Athlete Care Daniel Medina said in a statement Tuesday morning that Zhaire Smith suffered a left foot injury Monday while at Tim Grgurich's development camp in Las Vegas. Ggrurich is a former NBA assistant coach and head coach at Pitt who runs a summer camp in Vegas. Medina said Smith will return to Philadelphia for further evaluation and the team will provide an update once a diagnosis is made.
Smith, who the Sixers acquired from the Phoenix Suns in a draft-night trade in exchange for the No. 10 pick (Mikal Bridges) and the Miami Heat's unprotected 2021 first-round pick, showed flashes of brilliance in summer league play. The 19-year-old from Texas Tech averaged 7.7 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game in Las Vegas.
Head coach Brett Brown and the Sixers view Smith as a player with the potential to be "special," but the expectation when they selected him was not for him to play a major role this season. While Smith is an elite athlete, he's somewhat raw offensively and is transitioning from a power-forward role in college to playing on the wing in the NBA.
The Sixers' track record with the health of their rookies is not the best.
Their No. 26 pick in this year's draft, Landry Shamet, suffered a right ankle sprain in the first game of summer league and missed the rest of the competition.
Markelle Fultz only played in 14 games last season, due to a scapular muscle imbalance, a broken shot, or some combination of the two. Ben Simmons missed the entire 2016-2017 season after fracturing his right foot during training camp. Jahlil Okafor was sidelined on Mar. 11 of his rookie year after tearing the meniscus in his right knee. Joel Embiid sat out two full seasons because of a broken navicular bone in his right foot and subsequent setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed the 2013-2014 season as he recovered from surgery on his torn left ACL.
The Sixers will be hoping Smith's injury is not as serious. They have certainly tended towards caution when dealing with injuries to their young players.