On Wednesday afternoon, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that rookie center Joel Embiid will be shut down for the remainder of the 2016-17 season due to a torn meniscus. An MRI revealed that the tear wasn’t healing properly and the Sixers have decided it’s best for Embiid and for the organization to hold him out for the rest of the year to allow him to come back at full strength next season.
Here’s what Dr. Jonathan Glashow, the Sixers’ chief medical director, said in a statement on the injury: “The assessment of Monday’s follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid’s left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan. We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”
Embiid has had injury issues since entering the league, so this news has to be concerning to the 76ers and their fans. Embiid was drafted with the third overall pick back in 2014, but missed his first two seasons entirely due to multiple foot injuries. In his 31 games this season, Embiid was looking well on his way to earning the Rookie of the Year award and maybe even Comeback Player of the Year as well. He was averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game while playing just 25.4 minutes per contest. Embiid’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) was 16th in the NBA at 24.29, which was also second among centers.
Embiid was proving himself to be well worth the risk as well as worth the wait, but now it appears fans will have to wait even longer to see if he can make it through an entire season. In the mean time, it seems the Sixers were smart to hang on to Jahlil Okafor at the trade deadline. Okafor should be the 76ers’ starting center for the remainder of the season and could possibly be the long term starter, as well, if Embiid can’t stay healthy.
When the Sixers broke the news, GM Bryan Colangelo also released a statement, explaining the team’s decision to hold him out. “Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court. As our medical team and performance staff continue their diligence in the evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of Joel’s injury, we will provide any pertinent updates when available.”
It sounds like a smart move for the time being. The Sixers clearly aren’t making the playoffs this season and with the 2016 first overall pick Ben Simmons already ruled out for the remainder of the year, they might as well hold out Embiid too. Hopefully they can both recover to their full strengths this offseason and we’ll finally be able to see what this young team can accomplish going forward.