There are very few players around the NBA who embody a franchise the way Joel Embiid does the Philadelphia 76ers. The man who has taken on the nickname ‘The Process’ has seen an insane amount of organizational turnover in the eight seasons since he was drafted. Through all the injury issues, GM burner accounts, and heartbreaking postseason exits, Embiid has kept his focus and continued to improve his game. However, it is not his time with the Sixers that is in doubt, but where he will play international basketball that is the bigger question.
The French national team head coach, Vincent Collet, was recently asked about the MVP runner-up potentially joining the squad. He was not shy in his hopes and according to Rob Goldberg of Bleacher Report stated, “I know he met some of our players to discuss. I think he should play with us. But we will see. We will respect his decision whatever it is.” Embiid has had a busy summer with his changes in nationality which have made this so difficult.
Embiid the Frenchman?
It was announced earlier this offseason that Embiid had officially become a citizen of France which was a process that began in the spring. The superstar was born and raised in Cameroon but has never played for their national team. Like many of the people in Cameroon, French was the natural language for Embiid growing up which made the transition easy.
France has already had some solid production on the international level and adding Embiid would certainly increase their chances. The roster is currently made up of NBA players like Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Frank Ntilikina. Project first-overall pick Victor Wembanyama will also be eligible to play with the team.
A frontcourt of Embiid, Gobert, and Wembanyama would be an extreme challenge to opposing teams. Having three 7-footers on the court with two of them possessing guard-like skills would be a matchup nightmare for any team- America included.
Embiid the American?
It is not a foregone conclusion that Embiid will play with France as he also gained American citizenship this summer. When asked about this by Dan Gelson of the Associated Press, Embiid put it- “I’ve been here for a long time. My son is American. I felt like, I’m living here and it’s a blessing to be an American. So I said, why not?”
America has a ridiculous 143-6 record (0.959 winning percentage) all-time at the Olympics. Since 1992, when NBA players began representing the US, the record has been 58-4 overall with seven gold medals won.
While Embiid has publically stated that his production with the Sixers remains his priority, it is hard not to imagine that International play did not play some sort of role in his decision-making. Embiid has proven himself as one of the NBA’s best talents, and to share the court with some of the NBA’s greatest stars on this type of stage would be an amazing experience.
There is still time for the Sixers’ big man to make his decision as the next Olympics are in 2024. It is worth noting they will take place in Paris, which could make the decision more difficult. Seeing him flourish on the International stage will be exciting no matter which country he decides to represent, but Embiid has a difficult decision to make.