It has been almost three years since the 76ers drafted Joel Embiid 3rd overall in the 2014 draft. The move was a hot topic of debate due to a number of reasons. Aside from being a very raw player- he didn’t play basketball until he was 15- it was revealed that Embiid suffered a stress fracture to the navicular bone in his right foot, just a week before the draft.
The news was devastating as it both ruled him out for the 2014-15 season and killed his chance to be the #1 overall pick. A fractured navicular bone was the same injury that caused NBA HOFer Yao Ming to miss significant time before retiring. Foot injuries can be especially difficult for big men to to overcome in the NBA because of how much weight is constantly being placed on it over the course of the season. Many GMs, with Yao Ming’s fate assuredly in mind, were reluctant to spend a first round pick to acquire the 7’2 center because of the likelihood that the injury nags him for the remainder of his career.
On the other hand Embiid was coming off a sensational freshman year at Kansas, averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 23 minutes per game, before a back injury cut his season short. Embiid flashed potential throughout the season with dazzling post moves and superb rim protection. He formed a dominant duo with eventual #1 pick Andrew Wiggins and demanded the attention of NBA scouts and analysts alike.
Former 76ers GM and “process” initiator Sam Hinkie gambled on Embiid and it has paid off big time. After missing his first two professional seasons due to injury, Embiid has taken the league by storm.
— Liberty Ballers (@Liberty_Ballers) January 16, 2017
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 8, 2017
Joel Embiid is the sixth player in NBA history to average 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his first 20 appearances pic.twitter.com/dWBJQTK6rt
— cainelovescali (@cainelovescali) January 5, 2017
— Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) December 19, 2016
Joel Embiid 8 straight gms with 20 points playing under 30 min each gm…First NBA player to ever do that!
"Trust The Process" chants‼️ pic.twitter.com/DYWJKY5deO
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 14, 2017
Embiid is currently averaging 19.6 points , 7.6 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. He is the driving force behind the Sixers improvement and is well positioned to be selected to the All-Star game in New Orleans. In fact, he was only 16k votes away from being a starter in the ASG (!) and with the help of some high profile celebrities may actually do it.
— Triple H (@TripleH) January 13, 2017
I got you
See you in NOLA
— Sam Hinkie (@samhinkie) January 10, 2017
— Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real) January 14, 2017
— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) January 13, 2017
Embiid is a rock star on and off the court. Not only is he slowly dragging the Sixers out of the NBA gutter and removing the laughing stock label they have worn for years, but he is making basketball fans excited to watch Philly basketball again. The city has been buzzing all season about the improvement and potential of this team and Embiid is a huge reason why. They may not be a playoff team this season, but with JoJo leading the charge it won’t be long until they are. Trust the Process and be sure to vote for Embiid because voting ends tonight at midnight!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports