Philadelphia 76ers rookie Joel Embiid may look like Zeus morphed with Wilt Chamberlain in his highlights, but for a man who hasn’t played organized basketball in nearly three years, let’s all do him a solid and temper our expectations.
The legend of Joel Embiid continues to grow.
With each passing year, the former Kansas Jayhawk gets bigger, and with each passing year he gets taller.
And like most effective teasers, just to keep us on the edge of our seats, he’ll put on an annual dunking exhibition either through Instagram or YouTube.
In many ways, Embiid has unwillingly evolved into the big foot of the NBA — no has seen him play in what seems like ages, but the thought of a fully-developed JoJo intoxicates the thirst of the dominant center-deprived NBA fandom.
Watching Embiid workout is certainly a sight to behold. The velocity of his dunks, the bounce and explosiveness he possesses and the graceful nature of his moves are truly reminiscent of a young Hakeem Olajuwon.
And, yes, most NBA-caliber players would look amazing going up against a chair or 5’10” personal trainer (just ask Darko Millicic or Yi Jianlian), but in the two handful of games he actually appeared in during the 2013-14 college basketball season, Embiid did things on the court — I’m talking inherent, unteachable instincts, like his Dream Shake on poor Alex Kirk — that had him pegged as the concensus No. 1 overall pick before his first debilitating back injury.
But, the truth is, Embiid has not played a meaningful game in nearly three years; and for a guy who was introduced to the game of basketball as a mid-teen, he simply hasn’t had much opportunity to learn on the court through real competition.
All U Can Heat
At a reported 7’2″ (although, doctors indicate he might grow to 7’6″ when he finally plays), a healthy Embiid will do wonders for the Philadelphia 76ers as they move forward into a new era — not just physically with his on-court play, but mentally, to realize the fruits of their Process-driven labors.
Alongside prized No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, and Euroleague sensation Dario Saric, Philly has three intriguing frontcourt players all capable of winning Rookie of the Year honors next season.
Should we actually expect Joel Embiid to be an instant-impact, ROY winner as soon as next year, though? Conventional wisdom tells us no.
If you take a look at Zyrdunas Illgauskas’ career arch, a similar-sized big man who was sidelined for nearly two entire seasons with foot injuries, you’ll notice how it took Big Z two years to fully recover and start playing traditional starter’s minutes.
Given Embiid’s lower-extremity fragilities, expect the Sixers brass to treat JoJo with kid gloves this upcoming year — epecially if Philadelphia fails to solve their frontcourt quagmire before the start of the 2016-17 NBA campaign.
But, it is equally as important to take a step back and remember, as of today, he is nothing more than an extended trailer of highlights and funny tweets. For the sake of his development, let’s all temper our expectations.