Evan Macy: Why Joel Embiid’s minutes restriction really is “f—king bullshit”

Evan Macy: Why Joel Embiid’s minutes restriction really is “f—king bullshit”

Joel Embiid will start the regular season on the floor for the 76ers. Good news right?

Well, he will be restricted to a number of minutes “probably in the teens,” according to head coach Brett Brown, in every game to start things off.

To which the 23-year-old budding superstar said it’s “f—king bullshit.”

“I wish I was playing more minutes,” Embiid said, a day before tip off at the Sixers’ opening game in Washington, on ESPN Wednesday night. “I think I’m ready for more than, I don’t know whatever number they have. I don’t know, I wish I was playing more, but we’re going to see how it goes.”

Embiid was on a restriction last season, in the mid 20s, and averaged an amazing 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in just over 25 minutes per game. He did, however, famously relent over the restriction several times during the season, particularly after an overtime game last November against the Grizzlies and another later against the Pacers. 

He only played in 31 games last year, and missed 164 games over two seasons (two entire campaigns) after recieving two foot surgeries after being drafted third overall in 2014. Last winter he went under the knife again for a minor knee procedure. He was limited in training camp until the team announced a monster $146.5 million extension, and then appeared in two preseason games.

Clearly the Sixers are nursing their most valuable players back to full strength. But they won’t be getting their money’s worth.

The situation-blind minutes restriction seems illogical. Why not give him a monthly, or even weekly total of minutes to be limited to? Brett Brown and the coaching staff should have some discretion over how much he plays and when. If the Sixers are being blown out, or are up big, let Embiid rest and bank up the minutes. And then allow them to roll-over into an important game.

Or on the other end, if he is needed in crunch time, or overtime, and plays a few extra minutes in a game, sit him out for a quarter, or a game following. 

Having him sit on the bench for extended stretches of time does the Sixers’ no favors either

“It’s tough on the coaches,” Embiid said. “I don’t know how you do that, because I’m sure coach wants me to finish the game. But at the same time, that’s me only playing four minutes a quarter, and just sitting there getting cold, and my body not being ready to go if I have to wait 8-10 minutes and then got to go finish the game, too. If you look at it, if I started the third quarter, I have to literally wait like 16 minutes before I go back in and finish the game.”

The Sixers actually do want to win this year — and the Embiid extension paired with big contracts for J.J. Redick and others implies they are going to try to make a run at a playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference. 

Embiid is without a doubt the biggest question mark this season. His physical presence in the floor alone is enough to swing a game in Phily’s favor. 

Being cautious is fine. But blindly hurting the Sixers’ chances by limiting his time on the floor from day to day, really is “f—king bullshit.”