The Philadelphia 76ers season tipped off on Tuesday, and after playing on national television with all of their young draft picks healthy, there is an excitement building around this squad. While the team may have lost the game to the Washington Wizards, the potential for future success was on display.
Joel Embiid, who is still on a minutes restriction, paced the team on both ends of the floor. Ben Simmons, the first overall pick from the 2016 NBA draft, showed off his point-forward skill set by creating for others and running in transition. Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick from this year’s draft, subbed in off the bench and immediately began to attack the rim with confidence.
In an interview after practice on Wednesday, Joel Embiid went as far as to say that he feels healthy enough to play games on back-to-back days. This is notable because Embiid not only missed the entirety of his first two seasons in the NBA, but also did not play a single back-to-back game last year.
When asked about whether he would be ready to handle playing 25-plus minutes two nights in a row, Embiid said “hopefully I get to play back-to-backs,” and that his knee “feels amazing.”
If the coaching staff and medical staff for the 76ers agree with Embiid’s self prognosis, the hype surrounding this 76ers team is bound to elevate even further. The 76ers won 13 of the 31 games that Embiid participated in last season, but only 15 of the 51 games that he missed. His impact is felt by everyone on the court, and Philadelphia will need him to play as many games as possible if they want to make a push for the playoffs.
Another benefit of Joel Embiid playing back-to-backs is that he will get more on-court time to gel with fellow youngsters Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. The 76ers organization is invested in that trio being the core of the team for many years to come, so the more they can play together the better.
Against Washington on Tuesday, those three were only on the court together for three minutes. Fans, coaches, and analysts alike all want to see them together more often, so Embiid proclaiming how healthy he feels is a good stepping stone for things to come.
[Featured Image by Abbie Parr/Getty Images]