Sixers Fully Prepared for Joel Embiid Absences in 2019
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) -- When it comes to the NBA, some things are just merely inevitable. Each team has their own mishaps or issues that they are bound to come across each season. For the Philadelphia 76ers, theirs seems to be injuries.
If we have to get specific, the injury seems to always be to the same player -- their star center, Joel Embiid. He came to the NBA with an injury, and ever since then he has failed to stay consistently healthy.
At this point, the Sixers will fully admit the inevitable they deal with always. Head Coach Brett Brown discussed it on Wednesday as he met with the media at the annual luncheon. As he stated, "We all get Joel Embiid will not play 82 games," he went into detail about what the plan will be if and when, Embiid fails to play certain games.
The Sixers can win without Embiid. They are built relatively well from top to bottom, with multiple stars on the roster. Although they can win without Embiid, it's still necessary to point out that they aren't nearly the same team without him.
As Brown said, Embiid is the "crown jewel," of the Sixers roster. We found that out last season during the playoffs as Embiid struggled with a lower-body injury and a respiratory infection. With the Sixers' center failing to appear in more than 65 games in a single season, it's become clear he likely won't ever sniff 82 games. And that's fine.
Over the summer, the Sixers found their solution, which should serve the team very well in the future when the mishaps come about. The team inked veteran forward/center Al Horford to a multi-year deal. While Horford will start at forward when Embiid is available, Coach Brown confirmed that the veteran would shift to the center for games when Embiid has the night off.
However, the plan gets tricky if the Sixers are dealing with injury-related problems with Embiid early on. While Brown fully anticipates utilizing a heavy dose of Horford throughout the season, his goal is to make sure that Horford doesn't burn out early on. As the Sixers are almost guaranteed a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, Brown wants more than just a high seed -- he wants the number one spot.
Therefore, the Sixers will need to keep everybody's playing time in check. We can expect some Embiid rest days, and perhaps even some Horford rest days. As the former Celtics' star hasn't appeared in a full season since his final go-round with Atlanta in 2015, the Sixers will have to be smart with his health and energy as well. It will be a chess game for Brown, but this team is in excellent shape if everything goes according to plan.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_