With the NBA draft approaching, we figured the Philadelphia 76ers were going to reenter the local sports scene, just not for the reason that caused sheer panic last weekend when the Sixers announced Joel Embiid, last year’s third overall pick who is (was?) expected to be the team’s franchise talent for years to come, was not healing as fast as he should be from the stress fracture in his right foot, an injury that took place almost exactly a year ago.
This is concerning when you consider the recovery time is normally five to eight months, and the Sixers were having him progress slowly. It has now been a year, and he isn’t fully recovered? Even if he does eventually make it on the court, how long will it take him to recover from other injuries he’ll surely suffer, such as a sprained ankle? Six months?
But despite how bad this looks, the Sixers can’t be blamed for drafting him. In their situation, they needed to go after someone who they thought had the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. Who else were they going to pick? Aaron Gordon, who barely did much coming off the bench for a poor Orlando Magic squad? Dante Exum averaged less than five points per game while starting half the games for the Utah Jazz. Julius Randle played 14 minutes for the Los Angeles Lakers before breaking his leg, ending his season. Marcus Smart has shown some potential for the Boston Celtics, especially since Rajon Rondo was traded, but not enough to make your eyes widen.
Even if Embiid never plays a game for the 76ers, I’m okay with the team having drafted him. Remember, the Sixers originally wanted Andrew Wiggins, but because Embiid broke his foot before the draft, the 76ers had to adjust their plan. But taking a healthy, less risky player could’ve resulted in winning 25 to 30 games that brought them, say, the seventh pick, all but ruining the possibility to draft one of the top talents in future drafts. Drafting Embiid was what they needed: an all-or-nothing result. Draft enough of these players, and eventually one will pan out for the better.
The Sixers will get another chance to reverse their bad luck next Thursday.