The Sixers have two first round picks on their way back from injury, and neither is Markelle Fultz.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Zhaire Smith – the 16th overall pick acquired in a Draft Day trade with the Phoenix Suns – has been cleared for non-contact drills:
Sources @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith has started his return process to the team after broken foot and allergy issue, being assigned to G League Delaware for non-contact elements of practice. He’ll ramp up activities as weeks progress.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 24, 2019
It’s certainly an encouraging sign for a player who’s gone through two calamities this year: a Jones fracture in his left foot, which occurred while participating in a developmental camp back in August, and discovering a previously unknown allergy to sesame, which could have put his life in jeopardy.
Also being assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats is none other than Justin Patton, who was acquired as part of the Jimmy Butler blockbuster:
The team has assigned Justin Patton and Zhaire Smith to the @blue_coats.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 24, 2019
It’s way too early to project what kind of production fans can expect from these guys for this season, but the question on everyone’s mind – and perhaps on sports talk radio – should be: “Who will play a regular season basketball game first: Zhaire Smith/Justin Patton or Markelle Fultz?