Is Joel Embiid The Next Greg Oden?


Still pretty bummed about Joel Embiid? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, even though he was supposed to make his debut to the court this year as a Philadelphia 76er, he re-broke a previously injured bone in his foot. It needs surgery, and doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing much of him anytime soon.

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Following the story of Embiid, I’m eerily reminded of a story I followed along several years ago when the Portland Trailblazers had the first overall pick in the NBA draft. They used this pick on a big man who was supposed to be the cornerstone of their franchise, Greg Oden.

His large seven foot stature and impressive resume was tough to turn down, for sure. He was expected to do big things in Portland by all of the analysts.

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Oden had a great college experience, averaging over 15 points per game in his only year playing college ball. He was good enough to be picked first overall. Unfortunately, his first season was cut much too short with a lower body injury. That was okay though, because there was next year for his debut. No need to rush it. The story continued, but it continued with much of the same from Oden. Injury after injury became almost unthinkable. It seemed like no one could have written a more terrible story for a first overall pick in the draft.

Due to the time off, weight issues also occurred, to make everything that much worse. The Blazers simply couldn’t take it much longer, letting Oden go. He was unable to find work for years in the NBA, but landed a roster spot in Miami for the 2013-14 season. His role on the team was nothing more than a reserve player, and he didn’t play last season.

Although Embiid’s story has yet to unfold, the beginning seems eerily similar. A big guy going early in the draft who has a start of his career shattered by injury issues. The weight and laziness problem is an issue too, as Embiid told TMZ he was playing a lot of video games.

Big guys have been known for having careers cut short by lower body injuries. This is alarming that it is such a big deal for Embiid already.

Fans have been patiently waiting for Embiid, but are getting very antsy. After all, their first round pick is now missing two straight seasons. That’s nothing to smile about, for sure. Personally, it’s starting to feel like we may never see Embiid actually play in a Sixer uniform.

Trades have been suggested, but it doesn’t appear that they’ve been seriously considered. Maybe it’s time to try looking at the options of a trade, and getting a point guard in return, like the article from Christian Today alludes to. The Blazers lost a lot of money by simply releasing Oden because they waited too long. They had too much faith in him, and thought he would return from his injury, when he was far beyond that point.

The Sixers can’t let Embiid get to a point where he’s not valuable on the floor or in the trade market. He could be the next big bust, but they can’t let it hurt them.

We can take some good away from the injury. One of the many mistakes the Blazers made with the Oden injury was playing him much too early, not letting him recover from his injury. So far, the Sixers haven’t been premature in their diagnosing of Embiid, and haven’t let him be in games when he hasn’t been ready. Of course, they haven’t really had a chance to yet, but here’s hoping they’re going to continue being smart with when they should utilize Embiid.

Overall, Embiid was an exciting pick for Philadelphia. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone even close to plan, and seem to be eerily similar to the days of Greg Oden’s devastating career. Let’s hope Embiid isn’t as big of a bust.

Next: Norris Cole, Sixers Option For Point Guard?