Will Joel Embiid ever live up to his potential as the next championship gathering future first ballot hall of famer that he unquestionably has the talent and demeanor to be. Is he the next Shaq, the next Olajuwon or is he the next Oden, Bowie, or Bynum?
Just to let everyone reading this know, I am a Philly fan and I love my Sixers. During the 2014 draft, when the 76er management drafted Joel with the 3rd pick, I was despondent because no 7 foot plus big has ever gone through serious injuries then came back healthy. The ones who finally did, it was after their athleticism had left them and they were only a shell of the player who previously held all the superstar promise the world had to offer. A guy like Sam Bowie who if you ever saw him in college or during his rookie year, he was raw, athletic, an imposing giant just Jumping out of the gym. All that after
a serious tibia injury sidelined him for two full seasons at Kentucky. This after initially trying to play on the leg after the injury occurred. Now during his rookie season in 1984-85, Sam played 76 games plus another 9 playoff games. The very next season going up for a board he broke his left tibia again. When he tried to come back the next season, 5 games in he went up for a shot and when he came down he had fractured his right tibia this time. Once his athleticism was depleted he had a few pretty productive seasons in the early 90’s, mainly as a backup.
Bill Walton was one of the greatest, most talented centers ever. As a pro he almost never was healthy. He’d play half a season, then miss the next season entirely. In 1978 Walton played 58 games and led Portland to an NBA title. The next four seasons Bill only played 14 games. All 14 of these games came in the 1979-80 season, meaning three years out of four he didn’t play a single game.
So back to why I was so despondent at the actuality of Philly drafting Embiid. Its cause never has a 7 footer been seriously hurt with foot, back, or knee injuries, then when recovered stayed healthy for any serious amount of time. Some guys like Brad Daugherty and Yao Ming had multiple all star seasons before their injuries started. Ralph Sampson saw four straight all star appearances, three full seasons, but he only played 43 games the last year he was an all star in 1987, he was unable to play due to injury. He was never healthy again. Andrew Bynum faced injury year after year until his career ended in his mid twenties. Greg Oden was drafted ahead of Kevin Durant, but basically never got out of the starting gate. Arvydas Sabonis went through similar trials before coming to the league. So back to the beginning of the story now. No one, not anyone, never, not once has returned and remained unbroken. It’s my opinion it isn’t anything that’s wrong with the guys Ive mentioned. I don’t think a 7 footer’s body, especially the athletic ones, are capable of that kind of stress on their bodies. The ones who do stay healthy they are the anomaly. So Joel Embiid, I said all along he’s not going to be around long. Maybe he can pull a Walton before it all goes to shit, but that’s based on time and luck. Time, luck, and a Ben Simmons Jay. Why would he stay healthy? His injuries came faster than anyone else that I’ve mentioned!
He couldn’t even complete a full collegiate season before falling apart at Kansas. He played 28 games, just about a quarter of an NBA season, then didn’t play at all in 2015 or 2016. IN 2017 he played 31 games. Followed by almost 65 each of the last 2 seasons. Now with injury rumors and concerns entering the 2019 NBA playoffs, how long will it take Philadelphia to recognize that their process is really leading to another M. Night shymalon sequel, again set in Philadelphia, but with Embiid reprising the role of Mister Glass!
When this happens no one should blame him, he was injured coming into the NBA and history shows what it shows. Blame the management team who was their when he was drafted, for not knowing the history of the big man.