Ben Simmons has just hit his first speed bump enroute to his first NBA season. A training camp injury might see the young forward undergoing surgery, and likely miss the early part of regular season. This is unfortunate news for Australian NBA fans, seeing as Simmons' fellow NBA rookie Thon Maker had injured his wrist earlier in the week.
According to an official release from the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons rolled his ankle during a scrimmage in training camp at Stockton University.
A subsequent X-ray and MRI confirmed a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot.
Injuries of this nature are typically known as a Jones fracture, and require surgery plus an estimated eight weeks of recovery time. The injury might sound familiar to NBA fans; Kevin Durant had previously suffered from a Jones fracture in 2014. Durant underwent surgery and was out for only seven weeks before returning to the court, but suffered further complications from foot soreness and added surgeries.
In saying that, Simmons' injury has yet to be determined as a Jones fracture. The Sixers forward could be potentially suffering from an avulsion fracture instead, which is less severe in nature. Should this be the case, Simmons could be looking at 6-8 weeks of rehab time for recovery.
Simmons' rapid bulking, cause for injury?
Tim Grover of Attack Athletics --who built a reputation as a trainer working with NBA legends like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant-- has commented on Simmons' immense weight gain over the offseason, and suggested the added weight as a contributing factor for the foot injury.
In a recent piece by ESPN writer Baxter Holmes, Grover had spoken about rapid weight gain being a detriment to a basketball player's performance.
"That's how they're going to fail in the NBA," Grover had shared. "[Weight gain should be] a slow process. These are basketball players. These aren't body builders. They move. They perform. They have to perform out there. So they know how their body feels. You can't just pack all this amount of weight on there and expect them to still be able to have the shooting touch and move the same way."
Michael Jordan --who was punished by the physicality of the Detroit Pistons in his early career-- also focused on getting bigger and stronger with Grover's assistance, but merely focused on a gain of five pounds a year. Compare that with Simmons' reported weight increase of 33 pounds over three months (from draft night till now), and you can see why it might have been an issue.
The Simmons point forward plan is delayed
Simmons' injury certainly sets the Sixers' game plan back. The team certainly isn't suffering from a lack of players at Simmons' spot, with multiple forwards (Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid or even Dario Saric) ready to step up. His absence however deprives Philadelphia of a passing-oriented forward, one who could and certainly would have improved the facility of the team's ball movement.
The 76ers are currently considering further medical evaluation and treatment options, and will release further details as they become available.