Ever since Joel Embiid was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the third overall pick in 2014, fans have wanted one thing: to see him play. Embiid has been advertised as the next Hakeem Olajuwon almost from the minute he picked up a basketball and throughout his freshman year with the Kansas Jayhawks. It was widely thought that Embiid would have gone first overall in the draft if it wasn’t for the surgery to repair the navicular bone in his foot that scared away both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks.
So much like Nerlens Noel the year before, Sam Hinkie and the Sixers pounced, the fact that Embiid would likely not play for the entire 2014-15 NBA season a non-issue. Every once in a while we would see glimpses of what Embiid is capable of, including this much talked about Vine released by the Sixers last month:
However, while it seemed Embiid’s rehab was going according to plan, there was no definite word on if the 21-year old center would play in the NBA summer league. Fans were understandably curious as this would be the first time anyone would get to see Embiid play some real basketball, even if it is just summer league. As recently as two weeks ago, coach Brett Brown still seemed noncommittal on the issue, telling Marc Narducci of Philly.com
“The bottom line is, he is moving in the direction that says we are getting closer to getting a final statement on summer league.”
Well, on Tuesday it would appear that Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil made the final statement.
Appearing on Breakfast on Broad on The Comcast Network, he stated emphatically that yes, Embiid will participate in the NBA summer league.
Now a lot can happen between now and then as Embiid will have just begun participating the three-on-three drills around the time of this writing and is still working toward full five-on-five scrimmages. But the news that the centerpiece of the Sixers rebuild is going to be taking part in summer league is welcome news.
Given where the Sixers are in their rebuild, it becomes all the more important that Embiid start getting some real game time experience under his belt, even if Noel will likely pass on playing this summer. Brown has already said that the upcoming season will be an important one in the Great Rebuild as he hopes to have the Sixers move to the next stage, which is actually winning some games. For that to happen, Embiid needs to start becoming the player everyone seems to think he is going to become.
And that journey starts this summer in Las Vegas.