76ers 1st-Round Pick Zhaire Smith Recalled After Recovering from Foot Injury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers' Zhaire Smith poses for a photograph during media day at the NBA basketball team's practice facility, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, in Camden. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Swingman Zhaire Smith will reportedly be available to play his first regular-season NBA game Tuesday.

According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, the Philadelphia 76ers recalled Smith from the G League's Delaware Blue Coats on Tuesday, and he'll be available for the Sixers' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Philadelphia acquired Smith, the No. 16 pick in the 2018 draft out of Texas Tech, in a draft-night trade, but he has yet to play in an NBA game after he underwent foot surgery in August and suffered a severe allergic reaction in September.

The 76ers have been no stranger in recent years to young players missing significant time with injuries. A foot injury sidelined Ben Simmons for his rookie season, while Joel Embiid missed his first two seasons because of foot issues. A mysterious shoulder injury also hampered 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz during his time with the team.

It appears as though they will take things slowly with Smith as well:

Kyle Neubeck @KyleNeubeck

Will have more for you soon, but would not have high expectations re: Zhaire actually getting minutes tonight after listening to Brett pregame. They’re glad to have him here for various reasons, but doesn’t sound like he’ll just be thrown into the fire

Smith has played four games in the G League to date. He averaged 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in those games.

During his lone season at Texas Tech, Smith averaged 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 45 percent from three-point range. Although he hasn't hit a three-pointer in his limited G League action, he proved in college that he is capable of doing so.

It's unclear how much (if at all) Smith will play against the Cavaliers or moving forward, but he could be valuable bench depth down the stretch for the Sixers. If he can connect on outside shots playing alongside weapons such as Simmons, Embiid, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, he could give Philly's supporting cast a much-needed boost.

The Sixers have also struggled to guard opposing ball-handlers this season, which is where Smith could shine brightest. His defensive ability stood out at Texas Tech, and having him as a point-of-attack defender could take pressure off Philly's stars for stretches.