More than two years after being drafted out of Kansas, Sixers center Joel Embiid is about to make his NBA debut. The promising big man lost two seasons of his career to a balky right foot, which caused him to undergo two major surgical procedures while Philadelphia fans wondered if he was a wasted pick.
The Sixers knew Embiid had physical problems when they drafted him third overall in 2014. He sat out the final month of his lone season with the Jayhawks because of a stress fracture in his back. In a workout about a week before the draft, the Cavaliers medical staff discovered a broken navicular bone in his foot. Cleveland passed on him, taking Andrew Wiggins instead. When Milwaukee followed with Jabari Parker, former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie saw a worthwhile gamble.
“I sniffed opportunity the moment it happened,” he said at the time. “The moment it happened. The moment he got hurt, we thought we might get him and we might be just the organization with just the set of owners and we might the one to do it.”
Unfortunately for the Sixers, that broken bone never healed enough for Embiid to play. He broke it again and required a second surgery in 2015. Meanwhile, the grumbling in Philadelphia grew louder about Embiid’s commitment to the rehab process.
But the news on Embiid turned around early this year. Visits to the Aspetar medical facility in Qatar provided encouraging results in the areas of body weight, sleep, body mass assessment and healing. For the first time since he joined the Sixers, there was actual hope that he could take the court.
Fast forward to this preseason and Embiid has shown flashes of being the player that scouts saw at Kansas. He averaged just 14.7 minutes in seven preseason games, but put up 11.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and nearly a block per game. He also gained confidence while playing on his formerly injured foot. “I just got better every game [in the preseason], defensively, offensively,” he said.
That brings us to tonight’s question: What do you expect out of Embiid during his first season? The Sixers plan to be careful with him, starting him on a minutes restriction of 20 per night. Do you think he can be Rookie of the Year? Will he need time to adapt to the game after being sidelined for two seasons? Or will the worst-case scenario happen and will his right foot give out again?
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on Embiid. We look forward to what you have to say.