Sixers center Joel Embiid will sit out most of 2014-15, but he can't wait to suit up. Credit: Getty Images
Had Joel Embiid not suffered a foot injury, he likely would have gone No. 1 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Or at least No. 2 to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Embiid fell to No. 3 and the Philadelphia 76ers took a chance and drafted the 7-foot center from Kansas. Since the Sixers are in a complete rebuilding process, it was worth the risk.
Embiid’s upside was simply too good to pass up.
As a freshman, he averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds on his way to earning the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award. Embiid also blocked 72 shots for the Jayhawks.
Statistics don’t define Embiid.
Keep in mind that Embiid has played organized basketball for only three years. A native of Cameroon, he was raised playing soccer and volleyball. Amazing.
“Going forward, I see myself as a forward,” Embiid said on a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon. “I think my shot is getting a lot better. I'm working on my handle and passing skills. I feel like I can become a forward.”
Embiid is expected to be sidelined for five-to-eight months and possibly the entire 2014-15 season.
He’s working out and meeting with his doctors on a daily basis. When the time is right, he’ll be prepared to perform in front of the Philadelphia fans.
“I am just thinking about recovery,” Embiid said. “I want to get back on the court whenever I can, when I am 110 percent. I am going to work on everything, and come back whenever I can.”
Embiid has never been to Philadelphia and can’t wait to test out the best cheesesteaks in town.
On the court, he has a lot to prove.
“I love the fact that they took a chance on me,” Embiid said. “I love the fact that they believe in me. I won't disappoint them.”