Philadelphia Sixers big man Joel Embiid is essentially the basketball version of Frankenstein. After toiling in Philly’s desolate hoops lair for two consecutive seasons due to a right foot ailment, Embiid, who was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, is ready to be liberated.
Mad scientist and Sixers head coach Brett Brown is anxious to release Embiid from his basketball burrow, but he acknowledges that there will be restrictions imposed upon the former Kansas Jayhawk with the intent to not only usher him back into things slowly, but also preserve what many presume could be a promising career. This makes sense since the Sixers won’t be playing for much this season other than a draft pick and the crafting of some type of identity.
According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers will have Embiid on a minute’s restriction and he will not play back-to-backs.
“The Sixers will have him on a minute’s restriction. Embiid also isn’t expected to play on back-to-back nights. They won’t know if he’ll start at center against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the season-opener until after consulting with the medical staff.”
Embiid played in all of the Sixers’ preseason games but never exceeded 20 minutes played in any contest. Prior to the NBA’s regular season prelude, Embiid had not played in an officially regulated basketball game since March 1 of 2014, when his Jayhawks fell to Oklahoma State.
Embiid tweaked his back in the defeat, and he was shelved for the remainder of the season.
Embiid showed copious amounts of promise during his time on the floor in preseason, providing fans with breathtaking put-back dunks and post moves peppered with both power and finesse.
He’s an offensive dynamo and a defensive stalwart ready to reinstall meaning into a Philadelphia franchise that is starved for a transcendent presence.
So far Embiid has proved that awaiting his on-court arrival was worth it, and his fanfare will only continue to increase as we see an uptick in his minutes. Embiid already has the patrons of Philadelphia captivated, but he’s the type of talent where the fandom may extend across the country.
His comedic hashtags on Instagram and playful tweets make him a likable figure, and dominating on the court will only help amplify things. He’s akin to Shaquille O’Neal in the sense that off the court he’s jovial, but on the court he competes with a ferocity that many athletes wish they possessed.
Philadelphia understands how delicate they must be in dealing with Embiid, and pushing things even a pinch further than they should go could aggravate an already creaky foot.
That’s why installing a maintenance plan such as the one Philadelphia plans to enact is smart for both parties. Philly won’t be playing for much more than another lottery pick this upcoming season, and they’ll look establish some type of team-based individuality the type of distinctiveness that all great teams have and what the Sixers have been devoid of since they shipped away Allen Iverson to Denver.
For Brown and the Sixers this season, it’s all about sifting through the roster and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Will 2016’s No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons fare better at the three or four when he returns from injury? When will he even be cleared to play? Where will Dario Saric be slotted and how will he be utilized? Who will ultimately be the Sixers’ trade causality between Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor? How can they groom Simmons as a shooter/scorer once he sees the floor again?
By easing Embiid into the picture, the answers to these questions will be answered. On the Noel and Okafor trade front, it gives both bigs an ample amount of playing time to audition their talents on an American Idol-esque stage. They just have to hope some team fishing on the market is their Paula Abdul and not Simon Cowell.
Hopefully the minute monitoring doesn’t miff Embiid, but I’m sure at times he’ll get frustrated at the infrequency of his time on the floor, specifically on nights when he has it rolling and he feels as if he can keep things going. That’s just human nature. Embiid must buy into the Sixers’ shrewd sentiment and understand this is about the long-term.
Embiid has the potential to stave off extinction for the traditional post-up big in the NBA, but he must stay healthy in order for that to occur. Philadelphia plans to take steps this year to necessitate continued well- ness for Embiid throughout his career—and that is the right move.
The flashes he shows this season could coalesce themselves into a much finer picture, and that’s what Sixers fans must understand. They’ve been good about adhering to team’s motto thus far and they must continue. Trust the process.
Will “B.J.” Boyer is a third-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. ?He can be reached at WB806695@wcupa.edu.