The big man showed flashes of greatness this year, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in Justise 25.4 minutes per game. His size, strength, and superior offensive skill make him one of the most intriguing young players we have seen in quite some time. Although Embiid showed that he has the potential to be a perennial all-star, chronic injury issues continue to be a huge concern going forward. The Sixers need to seriously consider moving on from Joel Embiid.
On its face, it might seem too premature for the Sixers to try and shop Embiid, but he has serious struggles staying on the court. Health concerns have plagued him since he was a freshman at Kansas.
Embiid missed the Big 12 tournament, and the NCAA tournament because of a stress fracture in his back. He missed all of what was supposed to be his first season in the NBA with a broken bone in his right foot. The same nagging foot injury caused him to miss another full season the following year. Even though the young big man was on a minutes restriction, and never played back-to-back games, he still could not avoid the meniscus tear that will keep him out for the remainder of this season.
The legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey once said, “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late”. The Sixers do not want a situation where Embiid’s value continues to drop because of another injury in the future. When this season is completed, Embiid will have played 31 out of a possible 246 games since he was drafted by Philadelphia. FS1’s Colin Cowherd went as far as calling Embiid “Greg Oden” on his radio show The Herd.
Although Oden never showcased the skills that Embiid has this early on, the similarities in health issues are glaring. Big men who have a history of injuries in their lower extremities normally never get over them. The 76ers must attempt to strike while the iron is hot.
If they do trade away Embiid, they still have another talented big man in Jahlil Okafor, who has all-star potential. Their top-overall pick this past summer in Ben Simmons will be back next year to make an impact, along with another potential top 5 pick in a loaded NBA draft class. It would be a very difficult discussion to be had in the Sixers front office about this young, polarizing talent — but it is still a discussion that needs to happen in the near future.