The early returns on Joel Embiid so far this preseason have been promising, to say the least. And with Ben Simmons out indefinitely (possibly the entire season?), Embiid could emerge as the favorite to take home Rookie of the Year honors. The only problem with that is the Sixers’ front office wants to take a cautious approach as the 7-foot-2 center works his way back from multiple foot injuries that have postponed his NBA debut for two full seasons.
Philadelphia has already announced that he likely won’t play on back-to-back nights, and now coach Brett Brown has offered a rather conservative estimate of how much playing time Embiid might log this season.
That begs the question whether Embiid will be on the court long enough to put up the type of numbers he’ll need to win the award. For comparison, reigning ROY Karl-Anthony Towns averaged 32 minutes per game last season in a starting role, but he was also essentially the runaway favorite. Fellow teammate Andrew Wiggins averaged 36 minutes the season before that when he won the award.
So it’s a legitimate question. When Vegas set the odds immediately following last summer’s draft, they put Buddy Hield right behind Simmons, followed by Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn (who fellow rookies picked as the favorite to win the award), Jamal Murray, and Denzel Valentine.