Imagine how good Joel Embiid would be if he was allowed to practice

Joel Embiid

Imagine how good Embiid would be if he practiced. (Photo:

Joel Embiid is one of the breakout stars of the 2018 NBA season.

The seven-foot athletic prodigy has delivered on all of the immense promise he showed before and between the injuries that ruined his first two and a half years on an NBA roster.

Not only was he an in All-Star in his first full season in the league, but one of Team Steph’s go-to guys, going tit-for-tat with LeBron down the stretch in the All-Star Game. He’s become a bona-fide superstar, one of the league’s top jersey sellers, and biggest attractions both in the arena and on TV.

In a span of 48 games, Embiid has risen from punchline to elite player, and the best part for Sixers fans is, he doesn’t even practice.

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Sixers head coach Brett Brown confirmed back in January that the big fella “effectively hasn’t practiced.”

“We are moving him forward where he’ll get on a normal routine like his teammates are on,” Brown told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on a podcast. “Right now, that hasn’t happened. We’ve done everything we can to deliver him to the court on game night. He’s obviously a participant in film sessions and walkthroughs. But I think when he’s actually practicing and getting his cardio and his basketball rhythm down, I think, ‘Look out.'”

You can’t blame Philadelphia for holding their franchise-changing big man out of non-game activities that could get him hurt (again), but there’s no question that, at least so far, the lack of practice time is hurting his development.

Brown did mention that the plan was to eventually get him to a regular schedule of practice, but no one is clear on exactly when that will be.

Embiid also missed most of the Sixers’ back-to-backs earlier in the season, before finally taking the court on consecutive days around Super Bowl time. So, he’s progressing.

Despite his prodigious success this season, it’s clear that Embiid remains extremely raw, often times attempting maneuvers and ill-fated missteps that wouldn’t normally be seen above the high school level.

The main reason he’s been so effective is because of his size, intelligence and fluidity of movement. Few big men since Hakeem Olajuwon have had a similar array of post moves just waiting in their back pocket, and the fact that he’s played less than a decade of organized basketball has left him with no bad habits.

He’s also got guard skills and Giannis Antetokounmpo-like freakish athleticism, and has an incredible aptitude for the game. He’s a future Hall of Famer—of course, if he stays out of the emergency room.

With all of that said, until he’s able to play more basketball and teach his body more of the proper muscle movement that is true to the game, we haven’t come close to seeing Embiid’s ceiling.

That’s a great thing for 76ers fans, and a scary thing for the rest of the league. It’s also a scary thought for Sixers decision-makers, who will have to bring him along gradually and determine exactly what “The Process” needs to be.

Also see:

Giannis Antetokounmpo is downright unrealistic

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