Joel Embiid Season is Coming
Joel Embiid season is coming.
What exactly that entails we don’t yet know, but we will soon – or at least get an idea.
After two sidelined seasons filled with external doubt and skepticism, the third overall pick of the highly-hyped 2014 NBD Draft is finally ready to go.
Embiid confirmed to media members at Sixers media day at the team’s new training facility in Camden, New Jersey that he is indeed fully healthy, and ready for the season’s start. The Kansas product said that he has been testing his skills against his teammates, and that he expects to play in the Sixers preseason opener on October 4 vs. the Celtics in Massachusetts.
Embiid has been a participant at Sixers training camp at Stockton University, and after seeing live-action images of him posterizing Nerlens Noel, one can’t help but to be excited. But, before the Kansas product can even begin to live up to the mounting hype and expectations, he must first get out on the court, and stay there; something he is confident that he can do.
“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” Embiid stated. "I have a lot of confidence in myself. From what it looks like right now, I'm going to have about a 20-year career," he furthered, jokingly.
Physically, Embiid is massive, and clearly in better shape than he was coming out of college. He has added a couple of inches – not including the bushy mini-afro sprouting from his head – to his frame since he was listed at 7’0’’ at Kansas, and he has also added obvious muscle mass.
Though he’s not exactly where he would like to be – he said he could stand to lose a few more pounds – his body is about as NBA-ready as they come for a player that would be coming off of his junior year in college.
Just like his body has matured, Embiid’s game developed during his prolonged recovery process as well. Though that seems to be counterintuitive, the time away from in-game action afforded Embiid the opportunity to extensively work on individual aspects of his game. His shot is improved, as is he footwork. His increasing basketball IQ is also evident.
"I haven't played in two years, but my game has gotten so much better," Embiid said. "If you watch the game tape, I'm not the same guy.”
The talent is there, and it doesn’t seem like competitive fire will be an issue for Embiid – as it has been for some other bigs.
"My coaches sometimes say I'm a little bit too competitive," Embiid said. "But I want to win, and I feel like we should win every game. That's all I care about. I want to win. Especially being in this city where they've been looking for a team to win.”
Embiid will be limited by restrictions this season – his minutes will be closely monitored, and he likely won’t play in back-to-backs – as the team eases him back into action. The limitations will likely be frustrating for Embiid - who is itching to prove doubters wrong – but he has learned patience.
“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”
Such patience will be well worth it if it helps promote a long, productive career for a player that has been compared to Hakeem Olajuwon.
With his NBA debut drawing every closer, Embiid is understandably excited.
“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”
Neither can Philadelphia.