Two summers ago, Joel Embiid was the top prospect of arguably the most compelling draft class in more than a decade. But a nagging foot injury has postponed his NBA career ever since, leading to no uncertain amount of fear about his potential fate as the next Greg Oden.
Except, Embiid has been making tremendous progress lately, as chronicled in a couple of Instagram posts this summer (and subsequently satirized by The Ringer). The Sixers have announced that they expect him to finally make his NBA debut at the start of next season, and head coach Brett Brown hasn’t been shy about his expectation that the 7-foot-2 center will become the team’s defensive anchor.
The front office, however, has to protect its already fragile investment and plans to proceed with caution, as reported by Keith Pompey of Philly.com:
Embiid was expected to be an elite player since the time the Sixers selected him third overall in the 2014 draft. However, two operations on the navicular bone in the 7-foot-2, 275-pounder’s right foot prevented him from playing in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
The Sixers will have him on a minutes 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.
Now that #TheProcess is dead and Jerry Colangelo is in charge of operations, the Sixers expect to climb their way out of the cellar and back into respectability. Embiid is a big part of that equation, as long as he can stay healthy, and carefully monitoring his minutes as he works his way back into playing shape is a wise move on their part.