Add Zhaire Smith To The Sixers’ Rookie Curse List

The primary focus for Sixers fans this offseason has been criticizing a failed star-hunt that saw LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard go elsewhere. In previous years though, we’ve had to deal with far worse than a free agency goose egg. What exactly is that “far worse” aspect I’m talking about? Injuries.

Injuries to rookie Sixers have been a tradition since the 2013 NBA Draft, when the organization under the leadership of Sam Hinkie traded Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel. The rim-protecting big man missed his first season due to a knee injury. The next year, Philadelphia selected Joel Embiid. We know the story there. He missed two full seasons before debuting just to go on and tear his meniscus, cutting his 2016-17 campaign short. In 2015, the Sixers picked Jahlil Okafor. All seemed to go well on the injury front there until the former Duke product tore his meniscus, ending his season early, and pretty much his career.

This can’t keep happening, right? Wrong. 2016 finally felt like the year that the injury curse was going to end, but Ben Simmons conveniently landed on someone’s ankle in training camp and fractured his foot to keep the curse alive. After a year of waiting, we saw a historic rookie campaign, but Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz continued the curse with with shoulder issues and the yips which caused him to miss 60+ games last year.

This offseason, for the first time in a while, the Sixers added players via the draft that perhaps won’t have as much pressure on them as a Simmons, Embiid, or Fultz. In Zhaire Smith, they get an athletic defender that can defend and hit the mid-range shot somewhat consistently. In Landry Shamet, they get a tall lanky scorer that should provide an offensive punch off the bench. That doesn’t mean that they are free of the dreaded injury curse. Heck, it’s already struck folks. In Summer League, Shamet suffered a sprained ankle in game one and missed the rest of the exhibition games. We still have Zhaire Smith, though, right?…right? Wrong.

Per the Sixers on Tuesday morning, Smith has suffered a left foot injury at a development camp out in Las Vegas. While they didn’t reveal the severity, Shams Charania dropped the bomb on all of us, revealing that Smith’s injury is a fractured left foot.

The Sixers acquired Smith on draft night along with a 2021 unprotected first-round pick in exchange for Villanova product Mikal Bridges, who was originally selected 10th overall by Philadelphia.

In six Summer League games, Smith averaged 7.7 points on 32 percent shooting, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 rebounds.