Joel Embiid Has Finally Arrived
In 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers started their much talked about “Process” to rebuild the franchise and reclaim a place amongst the league’s elite. The following year, they selected the Cameroon-born Joel Embiid as the 3rd draft pick and the Kansas Center was tipped to become one of the most dominant big men in the league for years to come.
The main reason why he has not been able to fully live up to the expectations so far has been his long battle with injuries. Embiid missed the entire 2014-15 season after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. Though he was expected to return the following year, injury kept him out of court next season as well.
He finally made his debut during the 2016-17 season but he got sidelined with a torn meniscus in his left knee after just 31 games. His exceptional all-around ability was on full display during his short rookie season. Most experts had hailed him as the runaway winner of the “ Rookie of the Year” title. He was named to the All-Rookie first-team and averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds while playing only 25.4 minutes a game.
The 23-year-old center signed a mega 5-year $148 million dollar contract with the franchise before this season and has been at his best on the court so far leading the 76ers to their best start in recent years. He was instrumental in Philadelphia’s first win of the season with 30 points and 9 rebounds as they went on to beat the Detroit Pistons.
A couple of days later he put up 21 points and 6 rebounds in just 25 minutes against Houston Rockets. The month of November has seen Embiid continue his superb all-round form as he put up back-to-back games with 35+ points and 15+ rebounds, both in Los Angeles. His stellar performance against the LA Lakers made him the first 76er in a decade to score over 40 points in a game.
There are a lot of factors which make this young man so good at both ends of the floor. At 7ft2, 250 pounds, he is a nightmare for any defender to guard. But for someone his size, Embiid has such nifty footwork that he has already drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon.
He has a solid post up game and is equally adept at shooting from beyond the arc which was evident when he shot over 35% percent from three last year. The talent the man possesses has never been in doubt, the only question that remains is whether he can stay healthy through the rigors of a long NBA season. If he is able to do that then we won’t be surprised if the 76ers make a solid run in the postseason not just this year but in many to come ahead.