This past summer, the upcoming Sixers season looked to have so much promise. Now, they find themselves stuck in a rather frustrating rough patch. The excitement revolving around the tandem of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was palpable, but at this juncture, we may not be able to see the two of them play at the same time this season.
As Joel Embiid attempts to recover from a bone bruise (while also dealing with a partially torn meniscus) in time to join the Sixers on the floor post-All-Star break, Simmons still does not have a targeted debut.
Many pinned the Washington Wizards game on Feb. 24 -- the Sixers first game back from the All-Star break -- as the date the 2016 top pick would step on the floor. He would need to practice 5-on-5 before the team would feel comfortable allowing him to play, and according to head coach Brett Brown, there are no plans for Simmons to scrimmage during the team’s week off.
Brett Brown says Ben Simmons playing 5-in-5 during All Star break isn't going to happen. Says he's progressing, but at their slow pace— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) February 13, 2017
Simmons suffered a Jones fracture on Sept 30., the final day of Sixers’ training camp. He subsequently had surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal in his right foot on Oct. 4, and expectations were he would miss somewhere around 3 months of action. Brown mentioned that Simmons could return in January on Oct. 22, but then immediately walked back those comments after conferring with team officials.
Recovery time from Jones fractures differs from person to person, but most typically a player is able to return within 6-8 weeks. Assuming Simmons will not play against the Wizards next Friday, it’ll be nearly 19 weeks since his surgery date, and the team has not even mentioned the prospect of him playing an organized game yet. Based on timelines from other players who have dealt with the same injury, coupled with the fact he’s a 20-year-old with zero prior injury history, he should be 100 percent at this point in the rehab process.
Why it’s taking so long for the Sixers to feel comfortable allowing him to practice, let alone play, is befuddling. For fans who were forced to buy jacked up ticket prices for the Wizards game assuming that Simmons’ would play by then, the situation is absolutely maddening.
Hopefully, the Sixers are still targeting a debut for Simmons this season, and he’ll be able to give people a taste of what to expect next year. But the longer they continue to push off allowing him to practice, the less likely it is we see him play before October.