Brett Brown Gives Update On Zhaire Smith’s Recovery
It's only tradition that the Sixers have a first round pick that suffers some big injury that forces them to miss time. It's a tradition that dates back to the 2013 NBA draft with Nerlens Noel and has been an annual thing all the way to the 2018 NBA Draft. First-round pick Zhaire Smith suffered a Jones fracture at a camp in the offseason and in addition to that, he reportedly lost a chunk of weight due to a sesame allergy and is in danger of missing the entire season.
Prior to Tuesday's home game against the Knicks, head coach Brett Brown provided a brief update on Smith's progress.
"It's slow," Brown said. "It's not anything that's with us. He has worked out with one of our assistant coaches. Usually it's later at night and not with the team."
Basic shooting drills and light movement are what Brown describes as Smith's workload right now. On draft night, the Sixers acquired Smith and a 2021 unprotected pick from the Suns in exchange for Villanova product Mikal Bridges. There was uproar about the trade at the time, and since Bridges is healthy and playing and the 2021 draft looks to not have high school talent included, the deal being a success leans heavily upon how Smith turns out as a player.
As for when Zhaire starts ramping up, Brown says the Blue Coats will be his destination.
"My expectation at some point will be to integrate him a lot with the G League and let him practice, let him play and let him grow in that environment instead of being stuck as a prisoner in this NBA thing where he won't practice much nor will he play."
It makes sense to put him with the G League squad, as Brown mentioned, because he will have an opportunity to practice regularly and get good chunks of playing time once he is good to go. The Sixers themselves just had their second full practice since acquiring Jimmy Butler in mid-November, so an atmosphere where he has some freedom upon return is best for the rookie.
In Zhaire Smith's lone season at Texas Tech, he averaged 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds on 55.6 percent shooting.
Brandon Apter is a Sixers contributor to 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on Twitter @bapter23.