By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
While the Philadelphia Eagles were busy dismantling the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, their neighbors on South Broad received some bad news. The Sixers announced that backup center Richaun Holmes suffered a fractured left wrist in the team’s preseason game against Boston Friday night and will be re-evaluated in there weeks. Purportedly, the injury happened on a play where Holmes was fouled hard by Aron Baynes while attacking the rim.
Holmes is this year’s annual winner of the “Sixers center who will miss the beginning of the season” award. Given the training staff’s history with getting guys healthy and back on the court, we can expect to see Richaun return next fall. Seriously though, it’s a tough blow for a 23-year-old who was set to receive a lot of playing time, both behind Joel Embiid and in the starting lineup when Embiid inevitably sat out games.
In Holmes’ absence, free agent acquisition Amir Johnson will receive more minutes. Johnson was a slightly better rebounder (14.7 TRB% to 12.9%) and defender (105 defensive rating to 107) than Holmes, and shot better from three (34.0% to 28.9%), albeit on significantly less attempts. Still, any incremental help on the short term is negligible in the face of getting added development for a guy like Holmes who could play a role within the franchise for years to come.
The other domino effect involves Jahlil Okafor, who was unlikely to get off the bench, but should now see limited time as a rotational big. From a “trying to win games and make the playoffs” perspective, this is bad news. The Sixers were 12.2 points per 100 possessions better last season with Okafor on the bench versus on the court. As everyone has been quick to mention, getting Okafor on the court might be enough to garner trade interest if he can succeed over a small sample size. I think the last thing other executives need is additional game film of Okafor looking lost defensively.
Hopefully, Holmes’ wrist injury is able to heal quickly and we see him return to the court before the calendar flips to 2018. Until then, the Sixers will be back in action Monday night in Boston.