Zhaire Smith's 2020 NBA Debut Cut Short Due to Injury
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The injury that occurred on Wednesday night to Philadelphia 76ers shooting guard Josh Richardson put his team in a tight spot. Considering Philly has already been searching to upgrade the depth at shooting guard behind Richardson, the loss of the 26-year-old veteran was a significant one.
Since the 76ers have yet to make a deal this season, they were only able to make a few tweaks to the roster in order to make up for the loss of Richardson. On Friday, Sixers' head coach Brett Brown wouldn't reveal his entire master plan for the time being. But he did mention the team would utilize Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton a lot more.
He also mentioned that the second-year first-rounder Zhaire Smith would earn some minutes as well for the first time in 2020. After spending the entire first half of the season playing for the Sixers' G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, Smith got called up to the main roster.
Last season, Smith managed to appear in six games for the 76ers towards the end of the 2019 regular season. He averaged a little over six points-per-game, in roughly 18 minutes of playing time over that span. It was unclear how much time the second-year guard would pick up against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night during his debut, but the Sixers were sure to utilize Smith at some capacity.
With Shake Milton and Matisse Thybulle starting for the Sixers on Saturday, Smith ended up checking in reasonably early. Unfortunately, his 2020 debut would be cut extremely short due to an injury. During his three minutes of playing time, Zhaire Smith experienced some discomfort in his ankle.
After further evaluation on the bench, the Sixers ruled Smith out with a left ankle sprain. Although he didn't account for any stats aside from a lone assist, the second-year veteran looked like he fit right in with the Sixers on the defensive side of the ball.
It's an unfortunate start to his second NBA season, but the 20-year-old former first-rounder should have a handful of chances at redemption moving forward as Richardson is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks worth of action.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_