Joel Embiid will miss the rest of the regular season, the Philadelphia 76ers announced Wednesday. Embiid has been out with a bone bruise and a torn meniscus in his left knee, and a recent MRI led the team to change his status from “out indefinitely” to out for the year.
From the press release:
“The assessment of Monday’s follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid’s left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan,” said Sixers Chief Medical Director and Co-Chief of Sports Medicine Orthopedics at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center Dr. Jonathan Glashow. “We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”
“Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. “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.”
Embiid, 22, will finish his remarkable rookie season with averages of 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 25.4 minutes. He played in 31 games.
Here are four things to know:
He has already shown why the Sixers waited for him
Former Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie took a ludicrous amount of criticism for taking the best player available with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft and waiting for him to be healthy. Embiid missed his first two seasons, then made Hinkie look brilliant. It was clear even in his first game as a professional that Embiid is special. This is the rare, franchise-changing player that can dominate on both ends of the floor. He’s about 7-foot-2, and he has ball-handling skills, quick feet and 3-point range to go with his shot-blocking and advanced post game. Clearly, the jury is still out on whether he’ll be able to stay healthy enough to carry the Sixers over the next few seasons, but his first year has already illustrated why he was worth the risk.
There’s an argument he should win ROY
When media members vote for Rookie of the Year, they will have to chose between sample size and per-minute production. When it comes to the latter, nobody is touching Embiid. I would have voted him as an All-Star based on not only his obscene per-36 numbers, but his impact on his team -- Philadelphia outscored opponents by 3.2 points per 100 possesions with Embiid on the court, which is a better net rating than the Boston Celtics (plus-2.9) and just a tiny bit worse than the Los Angeles Clippers (plus-3.5). It is not an exaggeration to say that Embiid made the Sixers -- the Sixers! -- play like a top-eight team.
I’m not saying Embiid is still the favorite -- voters might be more persuaded by the all-around competence of Milwaukee Bucks swingman Malcolm Brogdon, or the recent impressive play of Embiid’s teammate Dario Saric. I’m just saying that he still has a case.
Philadelphia is a lot less fun now
I’m as much of a Saric fan as the next guy, but this is a bummer. Weeks ago, it was impossible not to be excited about the Sixers. Embiid was killing it, and 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons was supposed to be coming back relatively soon. Now, sadly, they’re both out for the year. In the big picture, this isn’t a huge problem -- and it’s definitely a good thing for Philadelphia’s draft positioning -- but in the short term, it’s kind of rough, especially after the front office gave away Nerlens Noel, arguably the Sixers’ best player, at the trade deadline. Nobody is going to make a point of watching this team on League Pass anymore.
The unanswered question
Why in the world did Embiid play on Jan. 27? He had missed Philadelphia’s previous three games -- the team was calling his injury a knee contusion at the time -- then suddenly came back to play 28 minutes against the Houston Rockets. He was fantastic in that game, scoring 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting, but no one knew at the time that it was going to be his final appearance of the season. He hasn’t played since, with his status changing from day-to-day to out indefinitely to out for the year. The Sixers were not as transparent as they could have been in explaining what was happening, and it’s still a bit of a mystery as to when exactly the injury got worse -- on Feb. 12, team president Bryan Colangelo told reporters that it was just a “small” meniscus tear and the pain was more about the bone bruise.