By Serenity Bishop
Two years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers drafted Joel Embiid. The Kansas standout was supposed to be the staple of the franchise. He was supposed to turn the laughing-stock 76ers into a playoff contender. However, Embiid has yet to play a game in the NBA. The seven-foot center broke a bone in his right foot, not once, but twice. Now, two years into his career, Embiid is finally healthy and set to make his first NBA appearance.
While Embiid was in rehab for his broken foot, the 76ers compiled a big man team that is uncontested in height, and maybe even in talent. The 76ers drafted Jahlil Okafor and Ben Simmons in back-to-back drafts to align with Nerlens Noel. With the four of them together, the 76ers could have made a playoff run.
However, bad luck has struck again. Simmons has ironically, broken his right foot. Fortunately, unlike Embiid, it should not knock him out of the NBA for two years. Although, if recent history holds true, being a draft pick in Philadelphia doesn’t go well. In 2013, Noel’s rookie year ended with a torn ACL. In 2014, Embiid and his foot injury took hold. Then in 2015, Okafor’s sustained a season ending knee injury.
Perhaps, it’s just bad luck, but then again, there seems to be a pattern. A knee injury followed by a foot injury followed by a knee injury, followed by another foot injury. It’s very unfortunate for a player to go down, but definitely for Simmons to go down so early in the year. Simmons is the only player in SEC history to ever finish in the top five of all three major categories: points, rebounds and assist.
The Louisiana State University product was a walking stat machine, but played for a very average SEC team. LSU only went 19-14. Losing Simmons may have been a blessing in disguise. Due to the fact that Embiid is finally healthy, the 76ers could finally see if he is the guy. With Okafor and Noel on the roster as well, Philadelphia could choose to move on from one before they start to bring the rookie into the lineup.
The 76ers have talent, there’s no doubt about that, but these talented players can’t seem to stay healthy. If all four players can be ready, there could be a difference in Philadelphia, in terms of winning. Whether it’s just bad luck or a blessing in disguise, the 76ers need to figure out how to keep their rookies healthy.