Today we’ll evaluate one of the best big men in the league. He’s known for his trolling antics on social media and his playful personality. He’s a player who you would love to have on your team, but hate to play against. If you guessed it, today’s topic is “How Good is Joel Embiid really?”
Joel Embiid was born in Yaounde, Cameroon and started playing basketball much later in life at 15 years old. He started playing volleyball and soccer when he was younger and had plans to play professionally in Europe, but that all changed once a basketball got into his hands. He was discovered at a basketball camp by Luc Mbah a Moute, who was a former NBA player. He was Embiid’s mentor and helped him get to the NBA. First, he moved him to the U.S and attended Montverde Academy, but he ended up transferring to The Rock School, a Christian academy in Florida. As a senior, he helped his team win a state championship and he averaged almost a double-double for the season. He got the attention from Division 1 powerhouse University of Kansas, and committed to play for them in November 2012.
He attended KU for the 2013-2014 season. He averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Embiid, another one and done, and declared for the 2014 NBA Draft.
NBA Draft/Rookie Season:
Joel was picked third overall by the Philadelphia 76’ers, and this made him only the third Cameroonian-born player, and highest Cameroonian-born player selected in a NBA draft. Embiid was injured going into his rookie season and missed the entire 2014-2015 season. Due to his injury not healing properly, he underwent another surgery and also missed the entire 2015-2016 season too.
So Embiid finally was healthy enough to play in his first season, two years after getting drafted. In his season debut, he scored 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had two blocks. And it wasn’t long after, he recorded his first double-double. He was named as a participant in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, but due to a knee injury he wasn’t able to participate in the All-Star Weekend festivities. Although the doctors didn’t see the injury as serious, it turned out to be more serious than expected and he was ruled to miss the remaining games of the 2016-2017 season. But, by the end of the season he was still named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Going into the 2017-2018 season, Embiid signed a five-year deal with the 76’ers. On October 30th, he scored 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals in only 25 minutes, and he became the third player to have such numbers in such little time on the floor. He was named a starter for the 2018 All-Star game, and the last person to be a starter in a game was Allen Iverson. This season he became the first Sixer to have 40 20 point games since Andre Iguodala in the 07-08 season. He helped the Sixers reach the playoffs, missing the first two games because of orbital surgery on his eye. They lost in the second round to the Celtics.
In the 2018-2019 season, Embiid became the first player in franchise history to score 30 points and grab 19 rebounds, since Charles Barkely in 1991. He also became one of seven players to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 200 blocks in his first 100 games, joining some of the greatest big men in NBA history. Embiid broke another record becoming the second big man to record multiple triple-doubles in the same season. They made it to the playoffs but took a L to the Toronto Raptors.
So moving on the 2019-2020 season, Embiid actually was held scoreless in a game, for the first time in his career. But, a few days later, he scored a career-high 49 points. The NBA season was postponed due to the COVID-19 virus, but continued in Orlando in “The Bubble.” The Lakers went on to win the NBA title after the long, unique season.
Joel Embiid has had his hands full constantly being injured from the start of his NBA career, but he’s proven that when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best big men in the league. If only he could stay healthy long enough to play a full season, critics will put him on a higher pedestal. What are your thoughts on Embiid and how he’s helped the 76’ers organization? Has he reached his full potential yet in the NBA?