Ben Simmons Cleared by 76ers; Joel Embiid Still Recovering from Knee Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 11: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up with Joel Embiid #21 prior to the game against the New York Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center on January 11, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons, who missed the entire 2016-17 season due to a fractured right foot after being the top overall pick in last year's draft, has reportedly "been cleared to resume full basketball activity for some time," a source told Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times

However, Sixers center Joel Embiid reportedly has not yet been cleared for basketball activities as he recovers from a torn left meniscus he suffered last season.

The health of Simmons and Embiid will be a major storyline for the Sixers next year, as the team is built around a young core that also includes this year's top overall pick, Markelle Fultz, Rookie of the Year finalist Dario Saric, burgeoning two-way wing Robert Covington and backup center Richaun Holmes.

And the Sixers added veterans in J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson during free agency to complement that young core, giving them the deepest and most talented roster they've had in years.

Optimism abounds in Philadelphia. In an Eastern Conference that saw three playoff teams from last year lose superstars—the Chicago Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Indiana Pacers traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Atlanta Hawks lost Paul Millsap in free agency and traded Dwight Howard to the Charlotte Hornets—Sixers fans are not only hopeful that the organization's long rebuilding process is finally over, but also that the team could even potentially sneak into the postseason this year.

The play of Embiid in limited action last year has inspired that optimism. In just 31 games and 25.4 minutes per game, he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game, flashing superstar potential and two-way dominance. It was an impressive debut for a player who missed his first two NBA seasons due to injuries. 

While Simmons has yet to play in an NBA game, his skill set jibes well with Embiid and Fultz. He's expected to serve as Philly's primary ball-handler from his forward position given his excellent vision and passing, and his ability to push the tempo in transition should lead to plenty of easy buckets for the Sixers this season. 

Given that Fultz can play off the ball and has three-point range, the combination of Simmons and Fultz works on paper. Now that he's reportedly been cleared for full basketball activities, Sixers fans will finally get the opportunity to see if the Sixers young core also works well together on the court—if they can stay healthy.

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