The Philadelphia 76ers came into the 2017 – 2018 NBA season with a chip on their shoulder, optimism in their stadium, and expectations firmly laid upon their roster. Through the first quarter of the season, it seems like the Philadelphia 76ers are still a long way off from getting to that next level and a lot of it has to do with the continued fragility of superstar center, Joel Embiid. Embiid hasn’t played a single minute of NBA action since the Triple-OT game against Oklahoma City where Russel Westbrook famously told Embiid, “Go home.” Now, it looks like the star big-man is going to get to spend the next week or so at home as he tries to get right in order to help the slumping 76ers.
The Philadelphia 76ers are a team filled with young players that look like they could be elite for the next decade. Ben Simmons has the inside track on becoming the NBA’s Rookie of the Year while also looking like a franchise-level talent. Joel Embiid, when healthy, is probably the best big man in the entire game. Embiid has the ability to completely shut down the paint, and opposing big men, while also stretching the floor with his shooting and physicality. Unfortunately, Philadelphia has to wear giant kid gloves in order to handle their superstar center.
Embiid is still a long ways away from becoming a nightly fixture in the 76ers starting lineup, and there is real concern that he’ll never actually get there. Embiid doesn’t play in back-to-back games and he has been banged up in some way almost the entire year. Right now, Embiid is sidelined with a sore back that might hold him out of the starting line up until after Christmas. The constant injury issues could mar what may be a historic career. Embiid is averaging 24 PPG, 11 RPG and a pair of blocks as one of the most dominant players in the game.
Embiid has, of course, struggled with injuries his entire career. With feet and knee issues plaguing him, Embiid missed the first two full seasons of his career while only playing 31 games last year. Without Embiid on the floor in 2017 the 76ers are just 1 – 6. Embiid recently signed a five-year deal worth $146 million and this contract could become an albatross if Embiid and the 76ers don’t find a way to keep their star player healthy and on the court as a contributor.