Intriguing storylines await Sixers at the start

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Intriguing storylines await Sixers at the start

The NBA regular season is fast approaching. After a season-opening date against the two-time champion Miami Heat on Oct. 30, the Sixers face some intriguing storylines from the opposition in the month of November.

Chicago pays a visit to the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 2. It will be the first time the Sixers have faced the Bulls with Derrick Rose since April 28, 2012.

On that day, the top-seeded Bulls were up 12 with 1:10 to play in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the Sixers. Rose caught center Spencer Hawes backpedaling off the dribble, crossed over and left his feet off a jump-stop. The former league MVP came down writhing in pain with a torn ACL.

Seventeen months later, Rose is back in action. Will he be as explosive as he was prior to the injury? Will he fear attacking the rim?

Two days after the Rose parade, Golden State comes to town. While Stephen Curry and his sharp shooting is basketball entertainment at its finest, the site of Andre Iguodala in another visitor’s uniform will again be front and center.

When Iguodala was a Sixer, he hardly captured the affection of Philadelphia fans. His body language often suggested issues were present and his monotone answers after games -- while thoughtful and intelligent -- painted the picture that what surrounded him was not enough.

Yet, Iguodala’s game says he produces winning numbers. The nine-veteran has started all 695 games he has appeared in throughout his career. He has averaged 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game over that span. Iguodala is also an excellent defender and his unselfishness makes him a great teammate on a good team, as opposed to a questionable leader on a mediocre squad.

Cleveland comes to town on Nov. 9, but whether Andrew Bynum is along for the trip remains to be seen.

As you know, Bynum spent the entire 2012-13 NBA season on the sideline after being acquired by the Sixers. He came to Philadelphia with great fanfare and left with people saying good riddance. Everything in between was disappointment after disappointment.

Still, the Cavaliers signed the former All-Star center as a free agent to pair with their young core.

Seeing him take the Wells Fargo Center floor would certainly bring out a reaction from Sixers fans. However, Bynum’s knees may not allow him to do that … again.

The Sixers will face New Orleans twice in November to make for a double holiday.

Jrue Holiday honed his skills in a Sixers jersey for the first four years of his career. He became an All-Star last season, leading the Sixers in scoring, assists and minutes played before eventually being traded to the Pelicans on draft night.

How will Holiday’s new cast impact his game? Will he reach another All-Star Game in the deeper Western Conference?

More importantly for the Sixers, how will they adapt with Holiday no longer at the controls. We’ll start getting a firm answer on that come November.

Orthopedist on Sixers' Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

Orthopedist on Sixers' Ben Simmons' injury: 'The prognosis is good'

On Friday, Sixers fans got some bad news when the team revealed that No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The Sixers didn't give a timetable for his return, saying that they were reviewing treatment options for the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

As a guest on CSNPhilly's Sportsnet Central, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Schwartz gave a little insight into Simmons' injury. Schwartz is not treating Simmons, but has dealt with similar injuries. Schwartz believes the prognosis is good for the Sixers' rookie.

"The big question is where the exact location of this fracture is," Schwartz said. "That will dictate the prognosis and the treatment. If it's at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it's usually a non-surgical treatment. It's usually a cast/boot for six to eight weeks and return to play somewhere around eight weeks."

That would be great news considering Sixers fans didn't get to see Nerlens Noel the year he was drafted and are still awaiting the debut of 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid. 

Schwartz warns that the injury could be something known as a Jones fracture, which would likely require surgery and the recovery could be three to four months. The prognosis would still be good, according to Schwartz, but other NBA players have had lengthy recoveries with a similar injury.

"The prognosis is still good, but we know that Kevin Durant had a Jones fracture and he was out for an entire season because of it not healing," Schwartz said. "But the prognosis is good, however, the question is whether it's going to require surgery or not."

For more from Schwartz on Simmons' injury and possible timetable, check out the video above.

Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

Ben Simmons suffers fractured bone in right foot

As the Sixers get two bigs back from injury, another goes down.

First overall pick Ben Simmons suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot on Friday. Simmons rolled his right ankle during the team’s final training camp scrimmage at Stockton University.

Simmons underwent an X-ray and MRI on his right foot and ankle. Sixers head physician Dr. Christopher Dodson and Sixers chief medical officer and co-chief of sports medicine orthopedics at New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow reviewed the images.

Simmons’ timetable to return is to be determined. The Sixers are considering further medical evaluation and treatment options. 

Landing the No. 1 pick and selecting Simmons was the highlight of the Sixers’ next chapter. They were supposed to be healthy this time around as they entered a new phase following a 10-72 season. 

The news of the fracture adds to years of injury-related setbacks. Nerlens Noel missed his entire rookie season rehabbing from an ACL injury. After undergoing two foot injuries in as many years, the 2014 third overall pick Joel Embiid is slated to make his NBA debut Oct. 4 against the Celtics in preseason action. Jahlil Okafor is also expected to play next Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending knee surgery in March. 

The Sixers drafted Simmons to become a focal point of their system. At 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, he is a point-forward with the potential to change the look of a lineup. During training camp Brown experimented with multiple combinations, including playing Simmons at the point, shooting guard and small forward. 

Brown called the two-three combination of Simmons and Dario Saric “6-10, do-alls” (see story)

Simmons, 20, impressed his teammates during camp. In just four days of practices, it was easy for them to see how Simmons would improve the Sixers. 

“He’s really physical,” Joel Embiid said. “He’s just a big presence. When he pushes the ball, you can feel it. He makes you want to go with him. … He’s so fast and he’s so big.” 

Said Nerlens Noel, “He just plays basketball the right way. When your big man does that, it makes it a lot easier because he is very versatile being a point-forward type. That opens up a lot of things for him to be able to open up for his teammates."

The Sixers will be faced with filling a role they haven’t actually had yet. They had gameplans of how to utilize Simmons, but they were implemented only in training camp. The Sixers have a frontcourt logjam which will allow them to plug in other players at the power forward spot. They also can fill his experimented role on the wings with traditional shooters. But his absence will eliminate versatile lineups in which players are essentially “positionless,” a Warriors-style of play that causes mismatches of size and skills. 

Even though the Sixers have an abundance of bigs, Embiid and Okafor will be monitored for minutes at the start of the season. Throw in Simmons’ injury and this creates opportunities for other frontcourt players such as Richaun Holmes and Elton Brand. With Simmons absence, there also could be more minutes for Saric to play his natural position at power forward. 

Simmons wasn’t letting himself get too far ahead as he entered his first NBA season. He has been taking each day one at a time with an excitement of the newness of his rookie year.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” Simmons said on Media Day. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

Now it remains to be seen when Simmons will play his first game.