Season in review: Joel Embiid

With the world still fighting through the COVID crisis, the NBA is suspended indefinitely. There is no end insight for this suspension and there is a chance that the season may be canceled. While the odds of that may not be high it’s still a scenario to consider. Whether or not the Sixers have played their last of the 2019-2020 season now is as good a time as any to review the season for each player. If you want to read up on the season Ben Simmons had, click the link below:

On the board today:

Joel Embiid: 23.4pts, 11.8reb, 3.1ast

This season from the jump was all about the pairing of stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. After an exciting post-season ride and an offseason makeover, the Sixers were poised to make an even deeper run this year. The team was often labeled the favorite out of the East and they would be led by the Process himself, Joel Embiid. The season did not go as planned however, as the team faced chemistry issues, a lack of development, and a bit of unfortunate locker room turmoil.

Joel Embiid has had himself yet another solid season, but is solid enough? Embiid is a double-double machine, low-post master, and a defensive monster. That much is for sure. The issue with Embiid is how much of that is he showing compared to his potential. Over 23 points, almost 12 rebounds, that’s an obvious All-Star caliber player. Embiid however, believe it or not, is still not close to his full potential.

Last season we saw a bit more of the two-way force Embiid can be when he’s healthy and puts his mind to it. He averaged an impressive 27.5 points 13.5 rebounds and nearly two blocks. Embiid has shown more efficiency this season and he has averaged less minutes per contest. There is a noticeable lack of aggression, however.

Joel Embiid has the ability to average near thirty if he were to go to work with the same intensity every night. Some nights he looks to be a top five player in the NBA. Other nights, he looks like a top five center. Consistency is key over an 82 game (normally) season and Embiid just hasn’t put that part of the game together.

Once again the injury bug bit Joel Embiid. He has appeared in only 44 of the 65 games played putting him on pace for for roughly 55-56 games if the season were to continue. Now this isn’t necessarily through any fault of Embiid. His dislocated finger earlier in the year was a freak accident, and his sprained shoulder happened on a collision play.

You can make the case that if Embiid was less physical he would not have gotten hurt. You may be right, but he also would be nowhere close to the player he is meant to be. Embiid cannot sacrifice his physicality or his level of play will diminish. In a perfect world, Embiid would dive for every ball and never get hurt. That is not this world.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the season for Embiid is that he seemed have competition for team MVP as Ben Simmons saw impressive improvements in almost every area (except shooting). Joel has long be the star of the team, even with Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick on the squad. Simmons, though, has gained serious ground this season.

The Process is no longer the unquestioned star of the team and there was even a debate about who to trade if one must be traded. Now don’t get it twisted, this is still Embiid’s team, but his situation is slightly more tenuous than it was when the season started. He just hasn’t really followed through on what was expected after the devastating loss to the Raptors in the post-season.

In his defense, Embiid has been an absolute champ storming back from the injuries that have held him down. After his finger injury, Embiid picked right up where he left off, averaging 23 points per game (including a three point performance shortened by injury) and including a career-high 49 point game against the Atlanta Hawks. Unfortunately he was hurt in his very next game and missed the next five games.

Though there was only one game between Embiid returning to health and the NBA suspending its season, Embiid made it count. Against the Detroit Pistons, Embiid put up an impressive 30 points and 14 rebounds in a mere 26 minutes. It’s a shame he didn’t get a chance to ride that momentum but it does restore some faith in Joel “the Process” Embiid.

All things considered, this season has been good but not great for Joel Embiid. It’s easy to wrestle with a grade for him depending on how you value availability or the raised expectations that come with a player of Embiid’s caliber. When the dust settled, I felt I had no choice but to give Joel Embiid a disappointing but firm:

Grade: B-

While not the grade anyone had hoped for, it is what Embiid has earned. I truly hope the NBA season continues because if it does, I firmly believe Embiid can improve this grade (assuming he’s stayed in shape). Until then, the season can be labeled a disappointment. Whether or not the season is over, Embiid must prepare for the next step. Playoffs or next season, either way, what comes next is crucial.

Mandatory Credit – © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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