As questions surround the Sixers’ front court rotation — featuring Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel — there may be more problems to figure out on the horizon after the latest update from No. 1 pick Ben Simmons.
Simmons, listed at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, had surgery back on Oct. 4 to repair an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He’s out of his walking boot and back in the gym with the hope of making his NBA debut in the early part of 2017.
Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo stood firm on his initial forecast for Simmons’ injury Monday, saying there’s still no timetable available for his return to the court.
“The only reason no one’s giving any kind of a date in terms of an anticipated comeback is because we’re not going to rush,” Colangelo said. “We’re not going to do anything to put him in a position to jeopardize his future career or his impact on this organization. When he’s ready, he’s ready.”
But if Simmons does indeed heal enough to take the court in the next two months, Colangelo will have even more on his plate to figure out.
Simmons, whose game closely resembles a LeBron James-like point-forward, will undoubtedly need to see some minutes at the small forward and power forward spots due to his size and stature. Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.0 steals as a freshman at LSU last season.
In a bit of a surprise move, Noel was taken out of the big man rotation by coach Brett Brown against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday after he made animated comments following a 100-89 loss to the Lakers on Friday.
“I mean, I’m too good to be playing eight minutes right now,” Noel said. “That’s crazy, that’s crazy, that’s crazy. [We] need to figure this s— out.”
Noel, Embiid, Okafor, Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes have all seen minutes at the power forward spot this season. Embiid started at power forward last week alongside Okafor and said it was the first time as a Sixer that he “didn’t trust the process.”
Brown and Colangelo stated before the season that this was a “good problem” to have, but their recent comments haven’t reflected that. Regardless of the current situation, the franchise is still very excited for Simmons’ debut and the potential that he possesses.
“When he does come in, we’ve got a special piece that we’re going to put into the fold and see exactly what he can bring,” Colangelo said. “We anticipate that’s going to be a pretty big impact.”