Joel Embiid is injured once again and the 22-year-old has been shut down for the rest of the season by the Philadelphia 76ers. While the knee issue that will force him to miss the rest of the year isn’t as bad as it could have been, it should still terrify Sixers fans. After all, Embiid has been eligible to play in three NBA seasons and has managed to see the floor in just 31 of a possible 242 games.
Embiid has a bone bruise and a tear in the meniscus of his right knee. While the bone bruise has reportedly improved, the meniscus tear is much worse than originally feared. While no decision has been made on what to do about the situation, “The Process” could be headed for surgery.
When he was on the floor this season, Embiid was a revelation for Philadelphia. He averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks per game. His scoring average increased every month, and his nine January games offered his best averages in points (23.4), rebounds (9.1), assists (2.8) and blocks (2.6). He didn’t play a game in February, so Embiid was improving every month before hurting his knee. Additionally, his PER of 24.29 ranked 16th in the NBA ahead of All-Stars like Stephen Curry (23.90), Gordon Hayward (23.15), Kyle Lowry (23.09), John Wall (22.79) and Kyrie Irving (22.17).
Embiid had essentially developed into the player everyone thought he was when the Sixers selected him with the third pick in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Kansas. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been on the floor enough for us to really gauge his long-term impact on the league.
As we all know, Embiid missed his first season due to a broken navicular bone in his right foot. After sitting out the entire 2014-15 campaign, he had a CT scan that revealed the injury hadn’t healed as well as anticipated. He was forced to undergo a second surgery on his foot on August 18, 2015, which forced him to miss the entire 2015-16 season as well. Embiid was finally healthy to start this season, but this latest injury has derailed what looked like a Rookie of the Year performance. Now there is more uncertainty facing the 76ers.
Is Embiid ever going to be healthy? He’s eligible for a contract extension this offseason, but in three years with the franchise, he’s only played in 31 games. How could Philadelphia justify a massive investment in him? The 76ers simply can’t and shouldn’t dump a ton of money into a guy they can’t count on to actually play.
Hopefully, Embiid recovers and remains healthy. He’s incredibly talented and incredibly entertaining. I love watching the guy play, and he’s got one of the best off-court personalities in the NBA. But right now Sixers fans should be really worried about his future.