Although Philadelphia was willing to take the risk and select Joel Embiid with the third selection in the NBA Draft, the past can shed some light on just what the 76ers are getting themselves into.
Joel Embiid is currently recovering from foot surgery to repair a stress fracture of the navicular bone in his foot. He is estimated to be sidelined between four and six months.
This is not the first time a 7-footer has suffered this injury. Yao Ming and Zydrunas Ilgauskas also had surgery to repair a navicular bone during their careers. Unfortunately for Yao, his career ended early after consecutive fractures to his navicular bone. On the other hand, Ilgauskas recovered from the surgery and went on to play the rest of his career relatively healthy.
Luckily for Embiid, his body is similar to that of Ilgauskas. Ilgauskas weighed 260 pounds, while Embiid weighs 250 pounds. Similarly, the two players are more athletic than Yao Ming, who weighed 310 pounds
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If Embiid does make a full recovery, Philadelphia will be very pleased they drafted him. Embiid is an excellent shot-blocker and rebounder with his long arms and phenomenal jumping ability.
What makes him special and the best prospect in this year’s draft is his raw talent. It will be interesting to see what kind of player Philadelphia turns him into, especially if he plays alongside Nerlens Noel.
Noel was the 76ers’ first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Noel is a spectacular athlete at 6-feet-11-inches. Further, Noel has a great upside as well. The two would make a dynamic shot-blocking and rebounding duo in the key.
We must not forget Noel is returning from surgery on his left knee and will play in the NBA for the first time this coming season. No one really knows what his career will be like.
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Embiid had a couple of run-in with injury his freshman season at the University of Kansas. He missed one game after spraining his left knee and suffering a bone contusion.
Towards the end of the season, Embiid received news from doctors that he had a stress fracture in his lower back. He missed the entirety of the Big 12 Tournament as well as the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Embiid’s career could potentially be plagued with reoccurring injuries that sideline him for weeks or even months throughout his career.
Only time will tell what the future holds for Joel Embiid. Philadelphia may have the most athletic frontcourt if Embiid returns healthy. Or, we will wonder what could have been.