Now that Joel Embiid is officially out for the remainder of the season, we ask five burning questions about the Philadelphia 76ers and Embiid
With news breaking this afternoon that Philadelphia 76ers’ prized big man is out for the rest of the season with a meniscus tear (hat tip to Derek Bodner of Draft Express and USA Today), here are the top 5 Joel Embiid-related questions that need to be asked now and moving forward.
Can He (Still) Win Rookie Of The Year?
No. There is no precedent in the NBA for a player playing less than half the season (31 games, to be exact) and winning a major award. Joel Embiid was by far the best rookie this year when he was on the court – the on/off metrics while he was still playing regularly were staggering – but he simply hasn’t seen enough court time to merit consideration.
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The only comparison would be in baseball, when Willie McCovey won the NL Rookie of the Year unanimously playing in 52 out of 156 games. He also would have lead the league in OPS that season, which is the basketball equivalent of PER. Embiid’s PER would rank only 21st if he qualified. He would have had to play at nearly an MVP level to win the ROY award playing in so few games, which he didn’t.
So Who Is The ROY?
Look no further than Embiid’s teammate, Dario Saric. His stats aren’t blowing anyone away, and it’s not like he’s helping his team win games, but he’s the best candidate in an otherwise weak field, and he looks the part. If Denver snags the 8th seed in the West, however, Jamal Murray could merit some consideration; ditto for Malcolm Brogdon and Milwaukee.
Both are having fine seasons. The dark horse is in Boston: If the Celtics are able to grab the East’s top seed with Jaylen Brown playing about 20-25 minutes per night down the stretch, he could steal some votes.
Is This A Tanking Maneuver?
If it looks like a duck and it sounds like a duck, well…
This move definitely seems like it is being made with Sam Hinkie’s theme music playing in the background. If the Philadelphia 76ers were shooting for a playoff berth, it seems unlikely that such a move would have been made with over 20 games to go in the season. That being said, with his injury history, this is probably the smart move. Speaking of Embiid’s injury history…
Should The Sixers Be Worried?
I don’t see how they aren’t at this point. No, this injury has nothing to do with the multiple Navicular fractures in his right foot that kept him out the first two years of his career. However, the history of big men and lower body injuries isn’t a pretty one, and the less of them you have, the better. It’s not like the Sixers are going to run out and put him on the trading block this summer though, which leads us to the most interesting question…
Is He Still Untouchable?
If you had polled NBA GM’s around Christmas and asked them to rank the top assets in the league under 25 years old, there’s a legitimate possibility that Embiid would have been neck and neck with Karl-Anthony Towns for the lead. At this point, he needs to be downgraded, if ever so slightly, until he shows he can play an entire season injury-free.
That doesn’t change the fact that he is completely and totally untouchable. He has shown the league more than enough to prove that he will likely develop into an All-NBA talent within a few years. As the Sixers know as well as anyone, those guys don’t come around that often.