The Philadelphia 76ers found themselves in a sticky situation this season when centerpiece Joel Embiid had to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, shortly after missing his first two seasons with a nagging foot injury.
After constant minute limitations and resting back-to-back games, Embiid played only 31 games before calling it a season. But as it turns out, his injury might have turned out to be much about nothing.
“I feel very lucky,” Embiid told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. “When I went into that surgery, I went in thinking I was going to have a six-month recovery. That’s what they told me: six months or more. I’m thinking, ‘No, not again.’
“When they did the MRI (before the surgery), it looked like my meniscus was fully torn. But when they got it in there, they realized that wasn’t the case. It really turned out to be nothing, just a small, little thing. So that’s very good.”
This is a sight of relief for Sixers fans and Embiid followers across the league, as the 7-footer’s performance through his small-sample rookie season was nothing short of spectacular — averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 36.7 percent from deep.
With no restrictions, Embiid could have produced All-Star numbers, averaging 28.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per game on a per-36-minute allocation.
The Cameroonian will set his sights on next season, looking to propel a Sixers team that is primed for a postseason bid in the near future.
“I realize I have to take better care of myself,” Embiid said. “I didn’t realize how good I could be. Especially seeing what I accomplished this year… I want to keep on getting better.”
“I’m just thankful that I am OK. I can’t wait to play again.”