Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is arguably the NBA’s most obvious example of an “injury-prone superstar.” The Sixers knew what they were getting into when they selected the Cameroonian third overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Thus far through 246 career games, Embiid has come as advertised – an utterly dominant big man who protects the rim with force on defense and has added a much-improved three-point shot to his already vast repertoire on offense. Of course, the 7-footer can only dominate when he sees the floor, and Philly fans have become far too used to seeing Embiid on the bench with one of a variety of injuries over the years.
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
Embiid talked with ESPN’s Zach Lowe on his podcast, the Lowe Post, on Friday about numerous topics, including his most recent injury. Embiid went down with a scary knee injury during a game in March against the Washington Wizards.
“Honestly when it happened, I thought it was over for me, I thought my season was over because of the pain and what I’ve never felt before,” he said. “When everything seems to be going well, it feels that something always has to happen.”
People Were Freaking out When Embiid Tweaked His Knee Against the Nets
Since returning from his 10-game absence following the knee injury against the Wizards, Embiid has picked up where he left off earlier in the season and is very much in the NBA MVP discussion. The team has gone 5-1 in the six games Embiid has played in April, and he’s averaged 29.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks in 29.2 minutes per contest over the stretch.
The most highlight-reel worthy tilt may have been his 35-point showing against the Boston Celtics on April 6. Most recently, Embiid went to town on the undermanned Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, finishing with 39 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks.
There was a moment in the second quarter though where the Sixers faithful were surely holding their collective breath – again – when Embiid appeared to tweak his knee after a drive and dunk.
Fortunately, Embiid was able to not only to continue playing in the game, but get 33 minutes of action, which were his most since playing 39 minutes against the Utah Jazz on March 3.
Embiid: ‘I Should Be the Defensive Player of the Year’
While the Sixers’ quest for their first NBA title since 1983, as well as Embiid’s injuries and MVP chances have mostly dominated the headlines, the race for the Defensive Player of the Year nod has been right there for most of the season too. For what it’s worth, NBA.com senior writer Steve Aschburner’s most recent Defensive Player Ladder had Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz placed first and Embiid’s teammate Ben Simmons in second.
Despite his missed time this season though, Embiid thinks the ladder is definitely missing his name.
While everybody probably “wants” to be the winner of the award – or any award for that matter – whether they “should” be is an entirely different story. Not only does Aschburner have Simmons up high on the list, but Embiid isn’t even second-most deserving for the defensive honor according to the writer, as guard Matisse Thybulle got some love inside the top 10, earning his way onto the “next five” portion of the ladder.
It appears to be much more likely for Embiid to earn some MVP votes, and perhaps actually win that award, than it will be for him to earn the defensive hardware.