After Overcoming massive off-court obstacles, Joel Embiid is finally ready to make an impact.
Philadelphia might be one of, if not the worst teams in the NBA however, an abundance of young talent has put the 76ers under the microscope like never before. When 2016 First Overall Pick Ben Simmons is fully healed from his foot injury not only will all eyes be on the young star but, the weight of the world will most definitely be on his shoulders.
One player, in particular, has already had to deal with such injuries. Much like Simmons, this player also came into the league with the highest of expectations. If you couldn’t already guess, this player is none other than Joel Embiid.
After bursting onto the scene with the Kansas Jayhawks in 2013-14, Embiid would go on to average 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds a game. The numbers alone do not justify just how good Embiid was in College. It was evident early on that not only was the Seven-footer a rebounding machine but, he could also make mid-range jumpers with ease and could even make the occasional Three-Pointer.
Keep in mind that Embiid was a big who could shoot just before being a big that could shoot and not just rely on post play was “normal.” At this point in time,Small Ball and the Three Point Shot had yet to take over Basketball. Joel Embiid would continue his excellent level of play for Kansas winning Big 12 Defensive Player Of The Year and at one point was even considered by some, as the Jayhawks’ go-to guy, over eventual 2014 First Overall Pick Andrew Wiggins. Embiid would forgo his remaining years in College and declare for the 2014 NBA Draft at season’s end.
2014’s NBA Draft grew closer and the hype surrounding Embiid would grow larger. On June 20th, 2014, six days before the Draft it would be revealed that Joel Embiid underwent successful surgery on a broken Navicular bone in his right foot. At the time not only was the big man from Kansas projected by many to be the First Overall Selection in the 2014 Draft but, he was also ruled out for Four to Six months.
Embiid would end up being drafted Third Overall by Philly but the surgical procedure would cause him to miss the entire 2014-15 season. After it was found that the injury did less healing than expected, during the Summer of 2015, it was revealed that Embiid would once again be forced to sit out the entire year halting his much-anticipated debut, once again.
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Flash Forward to 2016. After two foot surgeries, two missed NBA Summer League’s and over 164 missed regular season games, Embiid is not only noticeably bigger but he is most importantly, 100 percent healthy for the first time in a long time. On October 4th, 2016, Embiid technically made his much-anticipated debut scoring 6 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and blocking two shots in 13 minutes in Philadelphia's Preseason opener. The 7 Foot Cameroonian would cap off the Preseason averaging 11 points and 5 rebounds per game, showing signs of offensive and defensive dominance along the way.
The biggest payoff for Philadelphia and it’s fan base came this past week on October 26th. This marked Embiid’s regular season debut and he would not disappoint. In 22 minutes played, Philadelphia's 22-year-old rookie sensation scored 20 points, on 37.5 percent shooting with an 87.5 Free Throw percentage.
Embiid would also add 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 made Three-Pointer, to his debut totals. Social Media, as well as many league personnel, have been talking about the stellar debut ever since. Some, have even gone as far as to call him a future phenom in the league.
With just one official NBA game under his belt, it might be too early to know just how good Embiid will be, however, if he can continue to play the way he did in his debut, for Philadelphia the results could be huge. It seems that for once, the troubles and turmoils of the 76ers are finally being overshadowed by a recent success.
Although Embiid may not be “the answer” to all of the 76ers recent issues he is the result of a storm weathered and a process trusted. The key to Philadelphia's improvement going forward will be keeping their core of young stars healthy, especially Joel Embiid.