Joel Embiid was the only player keeping the Philadelphia 76ers in playoff contention, and now he’s down and out yet again. It’s not as if injuries are a new thing for him; he missed his first two seasons in the NBA after being drafted with the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
Right now, the 76ers own the 13th seed with a mediocre record of 22-37. It’s an improvement over last season where they went 10-72, and received the 1st overall pick in the draft. Ben Simmons was the chosen player, and was well received by the fans. He played at LSU, but has missed the whole 2016-17 so far, and is not going to play at all in his rookie season. Sadly, injuries to top draft picks is a trend that Philadelphia just can’t seem to avoid.
The 76ers had a plethora of big men with Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, and Embiid all healthy. The situation of spreading minutes around would’ve been exacerbated by Ben Simmons returning as well. They recently traded away Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks, and Jahlil Okafor, who was the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, was in many trade rumors heading into the final hours of the trade deadline.
Breaking: Joel Embiid is out for the season due to knee injury pic.twitter.com/ymrTtEaku2
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 1, 2017
Preparing for Embiid to be out for an extended period of time, the 76ers acquired power forward Tiago Splitter, who is an average veteran.
Embiid was averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He was a top contender for Rookie of the Year, but is not eligible for it since he won’t play the minimum of 50 games this season. The most likely candidates to win the Rookie of the Year award now are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon, 76ers’ Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns’ Marquese Chriss, and Sacramento Kings’ Buddy Hield.
The 76ers will be greatly affected by Embiids’ injury as he is their top scorer, and the 2nd best scorer on the team is Robert Covington with just 12.2 points per game. This season was supposed to be the year that the 76ers can establish themselves to be a legitimate team in this league. But the teams future is in jeopardy yet again with both Simmons and Embiid injured. Luckily, they will most likely be getting a top-6 selection in this years draft, a draft full of great young guards.
I still struggle to picture voting for anyone else for Rookie of the Year over Joel Embiid. His mere 31 games still outshine all other rooks
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 1, 2017
Sadly, Philadelphia has been destined for a mediocre season for a while now. But now a new question is being asked; when will all the pieces finally come together?