The Joel Embiid era is nigh but it comes with a bittersweet notion to it.
The No. 3 pick from the 2014 NBA Draft is just a couple of days away from finally suiting up in a sanctioned NBA game. Granted, it's just a preseason game, so there's nothing official happening, but the Philadelphia 76ers are going to finally get their talented big man on the court 27 months after drafting him. Unfortunately for the Sixers and their fans, the good news also has some bad news to accompany it. Even though Embiid is set to make his debut, No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has a right foot fracture and is out indefinitely.
Coach Brett Brown was on the radio in Philadelphia and confirmed the starting lineup for Tuesday night's exhibition game against the Boston Celtics in Amherst, Massachusetts. Jerry Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Robert Convington, and will start alongside Embiid, who gets the nod over Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor as the starting center. Simmons was supposed to be in the starting lineup, as well, but the team just announced he has a fractured right foot.
Brett Brown told 97.5 The Fanatic the #Sixers starting lineup Tues:— Jeff McMenamin (@SixersBlog) September 30, 2016
This is pretty exciting for all basketball fans, but especially Sixers fans. Without the injury concerns in 2014, Embiid would've easily been the No. 1 pick over Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker. Prior to his injury right before the draft, he had a legendary workout in front of dozens of front office people and blew them away. But that dreaded broken foot injury for someone his size essentially put his career on hold for two seasons. Sam Hinkie drafted him, believing he was too special if healthy to pass up on.
Since then, Embiid just hasn't been healthy enough to be a real part of the team's plans until now. It'll be interesting to see him presumably against a veteran center like Al Horford, who will be making his debut for the Celtics after signing with them this summer. This was also supposed to be the debut of No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, but that will be delayed indefinitely.
The Sixers had dealt with a lot of injuries for rookies in the past. Noel missed his entire first season in the NBA. Okafor missed 29 games as a rookie following a mid-season knee injury. Perhaps this means more playing time right away for Dario Saric, who is finally coming over to the NBA from Europe after being drafted in 2014.