Many people were hoping Philadelphia 76ers rookie and No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons did not suffer a Jones fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his foot, which is the same injury that kept Kevin Durant out for most of the 2014-15 season. Unfortunately for those hopes, the team announced on Tuesday that Simmons has undergone successful surgery "to repair an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal."
While there is no timetable for his return, it's assumed this increases his chances of being held out for the entirety of his first year in the NBA and won't have his rookie season on the court until 2017-18. However, that doesn't mean he will miss the entire 2016-17 season just quite yet. The Sixers were encouraged by the surgery and the positive feedback from it, and will update us on his condition moving forward when it's appropriate.
The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that forward Ben Simmons underwent successful surgery to repair an acute Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal of his right foot. Simmons suffered the injury when he rolled his ankle after landing on the foot of another player during a 76ers team scrimmage on September 30, 2016.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Martin O'Malley, Associate Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon and Fellowship Director of the Foot and Ankle Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Dr. Jonathan Glashow, Sixers Chief Medical Officer and Co-Chief of Sports Medicine Orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center, assisted with the procedure.
Simmons' rehabilitation will fall under the supervision of Sixers Director of Performance Research and Development Dr. David T. Martin.
"Our sports performance and medical staff was debriefed by Dr. O'Malley following the procedure, and we were encouraged by the positive feedback," Martin said. "Moving forward, a comprehensive return to court program will be implemented for Ben, and we will closely monitor his progress throughout the rehabilitation process."
Additional information regarding Simmons' recovery and return to play timetable will be provided as available and when appropriate.
The problem with a Jones fracture, especially for a person of Simmons' size (6-foot-10, 250 lbs), is that the possibility of re-injuring the foot is substantial or at least substantially higher than you'd hope for. A broken foot for someone so big is always going to be tricky to navigate. We've seen obscenely big men like Yao Ming and Zyndrunas Ilgauskas have their careers ended or at least derailed quite a bit by recurring breaks in the foot. Simmons isn't quite that big but he's large enough to wonder if he'll have a higher chance of re-injury than most players.
Durant missed the first 17 games of the 2014-15 season due to recovery from the Jones fracture. But it helped lead to complications as the season went on with his ankle and foot. He ended up missing the final 27 games of the season after a minor procedure in February and a decision to perform a bone graft toward the end of the season, which ended his chances of coming back. He returned to the court in 2015-16 without problems.
The reason the Sixers may hold out Simmons for the entirety of 2016-17 is because of the possibility of re-injury. Of course, that assumption also goes inline with the starts for Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid's careers. Noel sat out his first year in the NBA as he came back from a torn ACL in college. Embiid sat out the first two years of his career after complications due to a broken Navicular stress fracture in his foot, which seems worse than the Jones fracture Simmons has suffered. But with Sam Hinkie no longer in charge, those decisions for being extra cautious could change.
Other players who have had the Jones fracture are Brook Lopez, who struggled with foot injuries for years before becoming a healthy player, and C.J. McCollum, who missed the first couple months of his rookie season with a Jones fracture.