Sixers 2016-17 Player Evaluation: Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid

Position: Center

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Embiid in 2016-17
The season that could have been.

Joel Embiid burst into his first NBA season and poured everything he had bottled up over the past two years of injuries onto the court. He dominated across stat sheets: 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Remarkably, he put up these numbers while being capped at a maximum of 28 minutes. 

His production put him in the running to earn a spot on the All-Star Team (and possibly snag that celebrity date). Embiid came up short, finishing third in fan voting, fifth in media votes and eighth by players. 

All the excitement of his breakout season came to a halt, though. Embiid suffered a bone contusion in his left knee on Jan. 20. An MRI revealed a meniscus tear, which eventually required surgery in March. Embiid's rookie year was limited to just 31 games, a combination of the season-ending injury and not playing in back-to-back contests. 

Throughout it all, he never let injuries get in the way of a good social media post.

Signature game
Embiid scored a career-high 33 points against the Nets on Dec. 18, but I am going with another performance based on the level of competition. On Jan. 27, his final game of the season, Embiid dropped 32 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in 28 minutes in a loss to the Rockets. He shot 11 for 20 from the field, 4 for 6 from three and 6 for 6 from the line. This game came a week after Embiid suffered the bone contusion. 

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Embiid will spend yet another offseason rehabbing from an injury. The Sixers expect him to begin basketball activities this summer. 

"It was a simple meniscectomy and we moved forward," Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said last week. "Everything is now, basically, cut in half in terms of recovery time, in terms of the things that he needs to go through." 

Embiid is up for a contract extension this summer. This situation would have been a no-brainer if he had been healthy all season. The Sixers now have several options to consider: offer the max, offer a lesser percentage as the Warriors did with Steph Curry when he was dealing with injuries, or wait for restricted free agency. 

Once he is back on the court next season, Embiid will be the centerpiece of the Sixers. They will look to him as the defensive anchor and an offensive threat to spread the floor with his long-range shooting abilities.

It is likely the Sixers will monitor Embiid again with a minutes restriction. Brett Brown deemed the possibility of Embiid playing all 82 games as "wildly ambitious." 

On Embiid
"I feel like he was borrowed."

- Brown on Embiid's season cut short

"He is a game-changer. He is an All-Star level talent. He is one of the foundational pieces that we look to build with and around. There's no doubt."

- Bryan Colangelo

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