Joel Embiid is out for the remainder of the NBA season, and that could be a blessing in disguise for the Philadelphia 76ers. With the NBA playoffs out of reach, not to mention a bevy of questions involving the franchise, shutting Joel Embiid down is what is best for the Sixers. That is for the present and the near future.
Trust in the Philadelphia 76ers as a franchise has diminished as of late. Another injury-plagued season has taken place for the Sixers. With ESPN reporting that Joel Embiid will miss the rest of the season due to a torn meniscus, problems have overtaken all of the possible solutions. Sixers’ team president Bryan Colangelo noted that the team is looking out for Embiid’s future.
“Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court. As our medical team and performance staff continue their diligence in the evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation of Joel’s injury, we will provide any pertinent updates when available.”
Looking out for Joel Embiid allows the Philadelphia 76ers to do a couple of things — align things for the team’s future needs and develop a trade market for center Jahlil Okafor. The latter is perhaps the most important thing for the 76ers to do.
The news of Joel Embiid’s injury is untimely. It comes less than two weeks after the 76ers announced that No. 1 overall draft pick Ben Simmons will not play (courtesy of Slam Online) at all this season. With all of the speculation and NBA trade rumors circulating about Jahlil Okafor, it now makes sense why the Sixers held onto him.
Trading Okafor was not meant to be for the 76ers. Since the 76ers could not receive what they wanted in return for him in terms of a trade, they now have an opportunity to boost his value. In a timeframe of nine months the 76ers went from entertaining offers of multiple draft picks to getting offers with fringe rotational players. The trade offers of the Sixers could get better if Okafor plays well. A strong finish is what Jahlil Okafor needs to have in order to play his way out of Philadelphia, while helping the 76ers maximize on a return.
Looking at the Philadelphia 76ers going forward, they will need help at point guard. With Embiid out and Simmons slated not to debut, the 76ers will slide down the standings. The upcoming NBA draft is filled with depth at point guard. In all likelihood the Sixers will be selecting at a position no lower than eighth overall. That is a good spot to take a lead guard in the draft. Picking at one of the top eight spots is a good place for the Philadelphia 76ers to be in this draft.
Robert Covington's message to Sixers fans. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/qOozEUyAVG— CSN Philly (@CSNPhilly) February 25, 2017
Another silver lining to Joel Embiid’s season-ending injury is that it allows other players to step up. The Sixers has received some inspirational play from Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Both need some time to develop in order for the 76ers to take the next step forward.
Over the last 10 games, Robert Covington is averaging 17 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.9 steals. His play has opened some eyes around the league. Expect several teams to inquire about Covington during the offseason as a potential starter at small forward if the Sixers pick up the team option they have in place.
With Ben Simmons expected to take over the position next season, Covington will find himself glued to the bench. Because the 76ers did not invest a high draft pick on the fourth-year starter, letting him go will not hurt them.
Dario Saric is also performing well in Joel Embiid’s absence. Saric is leading the 76ers in scoring and rebounding over the last 10 games. His averages during this time period are a respectable 18.6 and 8.2.
Joel Embiid getting hurt has allowed other players to elevate their play. It is proof that the process is working in Philadelphia. The reason why the Sixers have struggled is because they have had too many players learning on the job. Embiid looks like a future star as long as his health holds up. His growing pains have been on display this season. And with his health in question, offseason routines will be developed for the betterment of his career.
Joel Embiid being lost for the rest season forces the rest of the Sixers to keep things afloat. The Philadelphia 76ers will be better because of this.
[Featured Image by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]