The Philadelphia 76ers might be looking at another year of all out tanking, as its pieces are not falling into place: it’s frontcourt still awaits on Joel Embiid’s recovery while top prospect Jahlil Okafor is set to make his debut, but he will have to rule out support of any resemblance to a capable backcourt.
Embiid was drafted with the 3rd pick by the Sixers in the 2014 NBA Draft, after an impressive college season with Kansas. However, Philadelphia did so knowing that it would not have him available for their upcoming season, as Embiid chose to undergo surgery for a right foot stress fracture which also kept him out of the last stages of the college season just six days before the Draft.
His recovery has apparently not gone as planned, as last months the Sixers announced that the player had suffered a serious setback. Now, they have announced that he will undergo a bone graft procedure on the same right foot, as the injury is apparently career threatening.
This sheds more light on the Philadelphia’s decision to draft another high-profile college big man this summer in Jahlil Okafor, also drafted at the third spot, even though they already had an apparently formidable future duo in Embiid and 2013 draft pick no. 6 Nerlens Noel. Even if GM Hinkie announced at the time that the decision was about drafting „the most talented player available”, it seems the Sixers were preparing for the possibility of another season without Embiid, and in a worst-case scenario planning the franchise’s future without him.
The 21-year old Cameroonian would not be the first high-rated big man in recent times who’d fail to fire up his NBA career due to injuries. In 2007, the Portland Trail Blazers chose to draft Ohio State center Greg Oden at number one over eventual league MVP Kevin Durant. Oden went out to play just over 100 NBA matches sinces, having been plagued by knee injuries which made him lose his outstanding college form.
But nonetheless, it would be another blow to the seemingly endless rebuilding phase the Sixers are going through. The team last made the playoffs in 2012 and has mostly tanked ever since, while not setting any certain direction for itself. 2013-2014 NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams was traded at the deadline last season to the Milwaukee Bucks in a multi-team trade which saw Philadelphia grab even more future draft picks.
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