DENVER – Ben Simmons didn’t give a timeline for his return.
The 76ers point guard, who is sidelined with a Grade 1 AC joint sprain in his right shoulder, deferred the return question to the team’s public relations department.
“I’m going to make sure I’m 100 percent before I come back, though,” Simmons said Friday night.
The All-Star point guard knows this will be a long season. There’s no need to rush back too soon and risk the return of a lingering injury when his team needs him the most. The Sixers will have 74 regular-season game remaining after Friday’s matchup with the Denver Nuggets, and they have expectations of playing late into June.
Simmons missed Friday’s game and will be reevaluated before the Sixers play the Charlotte Hornets at home Sunday.
Yahoo Sports reported that Simmons will likely miss the Hornets game and Tuesday’s home matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Simmons hurt his shoulder in the first quarter of their 106-104 loss Wednesday to the Utah Jazz. He received an entry pass in the high post and spun right to make a move. Simmons’ right shoulder banged into the chest of Utah’s Royce O’Neale,and he exited the game for good during a break in the action with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half.
Matisse Thybulle was a ball-hawking force in the first five games of his NBA career.
But the following two games? The Sixers rookie looked like ... well ... a rookie.
Like most of his teammates, Thybulle had a tough time defending Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker in their loss Monday. That marked the first time this season that the former Washington standout failed to record a steal. He had at least two in each of the previous five games while averaging a then- league-best 2.8 per game.
Thybulle continued his defensive slump and also failed to record a steal Wednesday against the Jazz.
Providing a defensive presence is the main reason Thybulle is in the rotation. He has yet to find a rhythm on offense.
He has averaged 3.9 points on 24.2% shooting (8 of 33) to go with 1.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists heading into the Denver game.
Coach Brett Brown noted that Thybulle is still a rookie.
“There is some forgiveness that he should receive, in fairness,” Brown said Friday, “and he shouldn’t torment about that."
He pointed out that it’s rare for a rookie picked late in the first round to be playing a lot of minutes for “a pretty good team.”
The Sixers acquired the 20th pick in the NBA draft from the Boston Celtics to draft the 22-year-old.
Thybulle was seventh on the team in average minutes at 17.3 per game through the first seven games. He was sixth in total minutes at 121 and made two starts.
Despite being in a slight defensive slump, Thybulle was tied for fourth in the league in steals with Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns (2.0 per game). Simmons led the league at 3.0 steals per game.
Thybulle was also third on the team behind Joel Embiid (1.75 per game) and Al Horford (1.14) in blocks at 1.0.
The Sixers “plan to empower him. To say it’s a normal thing you go through,” Brown said of his slump. “It’s not anything that [unusual]. And for him to play cocky.”