After five-straight seasons of injuries to their rookies, it must be asked: are the 76ers actually cursed?
Following the 76ers first winning year since 2011-12, a familiar foe hit Philadelphia during the offseason: the injury bug. This year's first round draft pick Zhaire Smith reportedly fractured his left foot on Tuesday and is now scheduled to have surgery later in the week.
Smith's injury marks the fifth-consecutive year in which a Philly rookie has suffered a significant injury, with two of the injuries robbing Philly draftees of their entire rookie seasons. After a half-decade of disastrous injury luck, the question must be asked. Are the 76ers cursed?
Tossing aside any (semi) facetious theories, Philadelphia has been struck by worse injury luck than any franchise this decade. As a quick refresher, here's a timeline of injuries suffered by 76ers rookies since 2014.
Joel Embiid, 2014
Before becoming the posterchild for The Process, Embiid was a cautionary tale in Philly. He was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in 2014 despite undergoing surgery on a broken navicular bone six days prior, missing the entire 2014-15 season. He sat out the next year as well, enduring a second round of surgery on his right foot in August of 2015.
Embiid finally made his debut for Philly in October 2016, dropping 20 points against Atlanta in his much-delayed debut. He earned second-team All-NBA honors in 2017-18/
Jahlil Okafor, 2015
The Duke product had a productive rookie campaign in 2015-16, averaging a career-high 17.5 points per game. But his season was cut short in late February after a collision with teammate Isaiah Canaan.
Okafor was ruled out for the season with a meniscus tear on March 11, never regaining the same effectiveness. He spent one more season in Philadelphia before getting shipped to Brooklyn in December 2017.
Ben Simmons, 2016
The Sixers' first No. 1 overall pick since 1996, Simmons' rookie season got derailed before it could even begin. The LSU product fractured his foot in the 76ers practice facility in September 2016, forcing him to miss the entire year.
But the injury has since looked more like a bump in the road than a tragedy, with Simmons storming back to win Rookie of the Year honors in 2017-18.
Markelle Fultz, 2017
The curious case of Markelle Fultz engullfed Philly newspapers and radio throughout 2017-18, with a shoulder injury quickly morphing into an altered shooting motion and noticable aversion to jump shots. Fultz was pulled off the floor following the season's first four contests, with 76ers doctors aiming to sort out Fultz's mysterious shoulder pain.
The saga continued without Fultz for nearly five months until the top pick returned to the floor in late March. He played in three playoff games for the 76ers, and will look to give Philly a fully-healthy season in 2018-19.
Zhaire Smith, 2018
Acquired in a draft-day trade with Phoenix, Smith is the fifth-straight Sixers rookie to be bit by the injury bug. The timetable for his absence is currently unknown.