Joel Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers superstar, might already have his sights set on next summer. No, he isn’t headed for free agency. No, the Sixers (barring an absolutely catastrophic situation) aren’t trading him. Rather, Embiid is looking ahead to next summer’s FIBA World Cup and the prospect of teaming up with a rising powerhouse on the international basketball scene: France.
French head coach Boris Diaw is “confident” Embiid will be there, according to Eurohoops. He likely would have played for France at EuroBasket this past summer, but injury and delayed FIBA licensure derailed his hopes.
“There has been no development since the last time we spoke,” Diaw said, according to Eurohoops. “Getting American nationality was something we knew for quite some time. It’s more about making his living in the United States easier.”
The outlet reported that Diaw gave “a resounding ‘yes'” about his belief that Embiid could play for France.
France Could Have Competition Landing Embiid
France isn’t alone in hoping to secure Embiid’s services on the international stage. According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Team USA is looking to add Embiid to the roster after the Sixers big man got his U.S. citizenship over the summer. Stein noted that Team USA might primarily be interested in adding Embiid to its Olympic roster to fill a glaring weakness on the roster.
“Keeping Embiid away from France, when it will have homecourt advantage at the next Olympics, is merely just one natural USAB justification for the pursuit. There is likewise the sobering reality that the center position has been a consistent source of vulnerability for the program in recent years,” Stein wrote. “JaVale McGee, for example, was the only recognized center on the Tokyo squad, although Bam Adebayo certainly knows his way around the 5 spot. In slumping to a humbling seventh at the 2019 World Cup in China, Coach Gregg Popovich struggled to generate any reliability out of the Brook Lopez/Mason Plumlee/Myles Turner trio.”
It’s difficult to imagine who else could step into the center spot two years from now. Will Cavaliers sophomore Evan Mobley be ready? What about Chet Holmgren, who suffered a season-ending foot injury this summer? Will Jaren Jackson Jr. be healthy?
Despite the stock of excellent American talent, Embiid might still feel pulled toward France for one huge (7-foot-2, to be exact) reason: Victor Wembanyama.
France Could be a Huge Threat With Embiid
As it stands, France is the No. 4 team in the world, behind the USA, Spain and Australia, respectively. So why would Embiid want to play for the fourth-best when the No. 1 is there for the taking? Because France projects to be one of the best teams in the world very, very soon.
Over the summer, the French team finished runner-up to Spain with a team that featured four NBA players, of which only Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier see significant playing time in the league.
But that could change quickly. Next summer, Wembanyama, an international superstar, should be available for Diaw. Wembanyama is also projected to be the NBA’s top draft pick next summer, whose arrival is already being heralded by legends like LeBron James.
A triumvirate of Embiid, Gobert and Wembanyama would undoubtedly wreak havoc on the world stage, even if all three technically play the same position. But Wembanyama’s smooth shot and spacing make him an ideal fit on any roster, while Gobert’s defense could allow Embiid to be a smooth operator on offense.