NEW YORK - Eighty-two games including back-to-backs. Joel Embiid has set high expectations for his second NBA season and return from injury.
Embiid is continuing to rehab from season-ending surgery in mid-March for a meniscus tear in his left knee. On Tuesday, he represented the Sixers on stage at the 2017 draft lottery (see story) where he gave an update on his progress. He said he will be ready for opening night.
"[My offseason goal is to] make sure my body's ready because I think next year I'll be able to play almost every game," Embiid said. "Just make sure my body's ready to take on the toll of the NBA schedule, back-to-backs, but I intend to play every game and we're going to see how it goes. It's about getting strong and getting my legs strong and making sure I'm ready for next year."
It is very likely Embiid will be under restrictions when he returns. This past season, he was capped at 28 minutes and held out of back-to-backs as the Sixers closely monitored him after he was sidelined by foot injuries the previous two years. So does he plan to play in back-to-backs for the first time next season?
"Oh yeah, definitely," Embiid said.
Embiid is slated to have another scan in the upcoming weeks, at which point he hopes to be cleared for additional basketball activity. At this point, he has not been jumping in his rehab program. Embiid said he expects to participate in 5-on-5 drills this offseason. He will not participate in summer league.
"Every day I go in and do some rehab on my knee, on my whole body basically," Embiid said. "Then [I] get on the court, shoot a little bit flat-footed, and then lift. After lifting, I go in the pool and [on the] treadmill and then start running in the pool. Usually I'm there for about four, five hours every day.
"Each day it's been going great. I think I've still got two or three more weeks to go until the next scan. If everything looks good after that scan, I'm going to start jumping and doing more stuff."
Embiid wants to push the Sixers to the next level next season after the team showed signs of promise when he was on the court. He knows he has to take care of his body this offseason to make that happen.
"I think we're going to have different expectations next year," Embiid said. "I'm excited about that. I want to win. I want to make the playoffs, that's a goal for me. The main goal for me is just staying healthy."