The Philadelphia 76ers boast one of the league’s most dominant stars in Joel Embiid. The Sixers know that. The NBA knows that. Heck, the entire world knows that.
Acquiring a talent like Embiid is a salivating prospect for any of the other 29 NBA teams in the league. That’s equally true for any of the three national teams the former Jayhawk could suit up for. Over the summer, Embiid acquired both French and American citizenship, rounding out a list that also includes his native Cameroon.
That means Embiid, in theory, could play for any of Cameroon, France, and the United States national teams. And according to NBA insider Marc Stein, USA basketball wants the Sixers superstar. The soonest Embiid could suit up for Team USA would be the 2024 Olympics, with Stein revealing the national team has “firm interest” in bringing Embiid into the fold.
Stein noted that Embiid would solve a serious positional problem for Team USA.
Team USA Desperately Needs Help at Center
Despite a loaded talent pool, Team USA is relatively light at the center position. The most recent USA Men’s Olympiad team featured only one true center: Dallas Mavericks big man Javale McGee. Embiid’s presence would go a long way toward bolstering the otherwise thin roster spot.
“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 come the Paris games in two years?
Perhaps the answer will become clearer over time. It better, as Embiid’s first choice may not be suiting up for Uncle Sam.
Stein: Embiid ‘Engaged in Discussions’ to Play for France
In addition to adding American citizenship, Embiid also became a French citizen over the summer, with hopes of playing for France in this summer’s EuroBasket competition. While that ultimately fell through after Embiid’s facial fracture against the Raptors in the playoffs, it hasn’t stopped Embiid from staying in touch with Team France.
“Sources say that Embiid has already engaged in discussions with longtime NBA forward Boris Diaw, who serves as the general manager of the French national team, about joining Les Bleus,” Stein explained.
It’s not hard to see why Embiid could be lured into joining his fellow Frenchmen. The club made the EuroBasket finals this season, and that was before the addition of generational talent Victor Wenbanyama. The triumvirate of Embiid, Rudy Gobert, and Wenbanyama could be unstoppable (and incredibly, impossibly, imperfectly? tall).