Joel Embiid has a torn meniscus, but that won’t stop the Philadelphia 76ers from not just merely competing, but winning. The Sixers won their third straight game with their 105-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets Monday Night, all three coming without their rising star Joel Embiid.
The meniscus tear, which they’re calling “minor”, is anything but “minor” for the Sixers and Embiid, a player who missed his first two seasons in their entirety from knee and foot injuries. What’s most concerning is not only Embiid’s injury history but the fact that his minutes have been monitored over the course of the year. They even gave him days off to make sure he wasn’t being overworked and then this happened. Ouch. Embid’s presence on the court cannot go unnoticed though, in only 25 minutes a game he is averaging a dazzling 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game. We put those numbers into Per 36 minutes and we get 28.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game. Now not everyone plays 36 minutes a game, in fact, Karl-Anthony Towns is the only big man to do so. But we can see what a dominant presence he could be if it weren’t for those injuries limiting to just a touch over a half a game’s minutes. What makes him even more unique is he’s a great shooter, shooting 77 percent from the line and 37 percent from deep, both terrific for a center, let alone rookie center. I really hope he can stay healthy and help bring back the center position with physicality and toughness, but sadly it looks like he could be Greg Oden 2.0. All the talent in the world, just the inability to stay on the court.
The 76ers President Jerry Colangelo is currently not too happy with Embid, as he was found dancing at the Meek Mill Concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly Saturday Night. While recovering from his meniscus mind you, take a look for yourself.
Not the smartest decision by Embiid, clearly. Yet still, the Philadelphia 76ers are primed for a bright future. Let’s remember that the number one overall pick in this past year’s draft, Ben Simmons, has yet to play at all this season. Simmons has drawn comparisons to LeBron James not only for his size, 6”10 240lbs, but his ability as a passer combined with his high basketball IQ from the forward position. They have some solid young role players as well with Tj McConnell, Robert Covington, Nerlens Noel, and Darko Saric. Not even going to mention Jahlil Okafor who’s been a huge disappointment and I fully anticipate him being dealt before the NBA trade deadline on February 23rd. The Sixers have a huge a log jam at power forward and center anyway, so look for him to be dealt, maybe to the Chicago Bulls who could use a young center.
What makes the future prospects even more intriguing however is that the Sixers have the Lakers 2017 first round pick which is protected top 3. They also have their own draft pick with the ability to swap with the Sacramento Kings, who aren’t very good either, so essentially, they could have two top 5 picks in a perfect world. This means they could add two immense talents such as the likes of Lonzo Ball, Jonathan Isaac, Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Dennis Smith, or Robert Williams, all freshmen as well. The talent and potential upside in this draft may be as good as any we’ve seen since the famed class of 2003, in which the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony were a part of.
Combine all of this with the cap space to be able to sign at least one max contract player and another solid rotation player, the Sixers will be set for the future. I think they will still have growing pains learning to play together as a unit with so many new young faces. If the Sixers acquire a couple veterans, with a healthy Embid and Simmons, I anticipate the Sixers to make some big noise and make the playoffs in 2017, something they haven’t done since 2011-12.