On the surface, the news looks bleak, even grim.
After three tankable seasons, the 76ers finally looked to be on the rebound in 2016-17 with Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons leading the way.
The new-look Sixers will be much improved than the franchise which won only 47 games over the last three seasons combined. But they received some tough news recently with the announcement that Simmons underwent successful surgery to repair an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot.
It’s unclear how much time Simmons will miss. Reports and speculation have varied. Some say three months. Others say he could sit out an entire season. There will surely be a better answer for the fans by the new year.
Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick from LSU, was expected to be an instant contender for Rookie of the Year while leading the Sixers back to respectability.
Until he rolled that ankle and foot at the end of training camp.
“He’s doing well,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters. “I felt like I heard a bounce in his voice that it’s not all doom and gloom, that there will be ways where we continue to keep him involved with his teammates and move him forward with his improvement.”
Embiid just returned after missing two full seasons. Noel missed an entire season. Okafor suffered a knee injury in the second half of last season. Add Simmons to the list. It’s a scenario that Brown is quite familiar with.
“We’ve had so much practice over the years with this type of thing that I feel we as a staff, personally, you feel like you’re getting better at how to handle this,” Brown told reporters.
Let’s be honest: the Sixers weren’t on their way this season to a potential championship parade down Broad Street. The foundation is improving, but they’re still far away from the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Golden State Warriors.
This setback shouldn’t be treated as a disaster.
It’s not the most positive news, but it’s hardly grim.
The Sixers must band together and treat this as another hurdle they must overcome.
“There has to be a real level of resilience,” Brown told reporters. “There's got to be a level of excitement that new opportunities have presented themselves. It's a group that really hasn't spent much time with each other. It's not like they can call upon this strong friendship or this strong bond. We are a very young, new team. You don't absorb a hit like losing Ben like you could if you were a veteran team that has been with each other on the floor a long time.”
There is so much positive buzz about this team. This injury to Simmons doesn’t completely change everything. It’s frustrating, sure. Simmons will return at some point and the fans have to be excited about that fact.