Last January, the 76ers finished 10-5, electrified the crowd and proved they were a franchise trending upward.
It was all spearheaded by Joel Embiid.
Embiid did miss some games during the month – he only played 31 games all season – but the Sixers were suddenly exciting again led by the 7-foot-2 center. Embiid even uttered the term “playoffs” on more than one occasion.
Injuries derailed him once again and the Sixers sputtered to a 28-54 record. In three seasons, Embiid has played a total of 31 games.
As of now, Embiid isn’t even scrimmaging 5-on-5.
Keep in mind that he’s coming due for a contract extension.
Many questions have to be asked.
Can you give an oft-injured player $125 million? Don’t you almost have to award him big money to keep the rabid fan base interested? What if Embiid continues to struggle with injuries? Will it hamper the franchise from making other moves?
These are all valid questions as training camp approaches – the fifth training camp for head coach Brett Brown.
With a healthy Embiid, Dario Saric, and rookie guards Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, among others, there are so many reasons to be optimistic in Sixerville.
Should the fans be concerned that Embiid isn’t scrimmaging yet? Maybe.
When the regular season tips off, Embiid needs to be on the court. When the Sixers have back-to-backs, Embiid needs to play. Not every time. But he needs to show he’s durable enough to warrant such a huge contract extension.
Embiid was phenomenal during his 31-game stint. Not many players would be considered for Rookie of the Year honors with such a small sample size. He was that good. He was that dominant. He flashed the ability to not only become an All-Star but a potential future Hall of Famer.
It’s going to become a sticking point very soon between Embiid and the Sixers. What other choice do the Sixers have? They can’t trade him after putting so much into his progress since selecting him No. 3 overall in the 2014 draft.
The Embiid-Sixers marriage must work. The dollar figures will have to work out.
It’s up to Embiid to stay on the court and help lead this franchise back to respectability. Last January, the Sixers became relevant for a little while and it was noticeable everywhere.
Embiid has a personality to match his basketball skills. He has a chance to capture this city.
The Sixers have managed only 75 wins over the last four seasons combined. They won 10 games alone in January for their first winning month since November of 2012.
They’re almost certainly going to have to pay Embiid a huge sum of money to be their anchor. Right now, their anchor isn’t scrimmaging full court. It’s a fluid situation worth watching.