Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is still recovering from knee surgery, but he expects to be healthy for the start of camp.
The 23-year-old said that he’s not yet cleared to play five-on-five, but he’s back to non-contact drills, per ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Embiid had surgery on his left meniscus back in March, and he didn’t feel the injury would keep him on the sideline for too long. Even before the surgery, the Sixers were very cautious with their seven-foot center, keeping him on a minutes restriction and also sitting him on the second-half of back-to-backs.
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Embiid played just 31 games this year after missing two full seasons with various ailments. When he suited up, however, he was a game-changer. Despite not logging many minutes (25.4), Embiid averaged 20.8 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 46.6 percent from the field. He was an obvious All-Rookie first team selection, and the only thing that kept him from winning the Rookie of the Year award was missing a majority of the season.
His long-awaited debut campaign didn’t disappoint. And it was far better than what most of us expected. Embiid’s versatility on offense was something not shown as Kansas; he developed a reliable three-point jumper and balanced that with impeccable footwork and a vast array of moves in the low-post. Opponents couldn’t keep him off the foul line, either. Embiid finished eighth in the NBA with 7.9 free throw attempts a night, and he converted on 78.3 percent of them.
On defense, he was everything we anticipated. With a massive frame and bountiful athleticism, Embiid quickly became one of the most feared rim protectors, and opponents shot just 44.1 percent inside of six feet. That’s 17.8 percentage points below their average, according to Synergy.
Despite all that we’ve seen from Embiid, Brett Brown thinks it’s “very ambitious” for the Cameroonian to start the season without a minutes restriction. Coach Brown trusts the process. He doesn’t want to throw his potential star into the fire just to have another setback.
Whatever the team decides to do is on them, but one thing is sure: Joel Embiid is going to produce. When he’s not playing, his Twitter account will give us some laughs to make up for it.
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