2017 Bold Predictions: Joel Embiid Will Not do Well to Start

This season is important for the Philadelphia 76ers, and they have a lot resting on new faces. Joel Embiid will not start hot, despite the hype around him.

No player in the NBA can drop a 30 second workout video and get people riled up for an entire NBA season. No player can play zero NBA games and still have fans dying to see what his next move on social media will be. Joel Embiid is something else in the basketball world, and Philadelphia 76ers fans are excited to see what he turns into.

You see, Embiid was one of the moves that Sam Hinkie orchestrated that has yet to blossom. There’s several other things Hinkie did throughout his tenure as president of the team that we have yet to see play out — drafting Dario Saric, trading Michael Carter-Williams for the Lakers pick, trading for the Sacramento Kings’ picks — but Embiid is one of the ones that’s on the forefront of fan’s minds.

Hinkie got Embiid on a discount. Embiid would have gone first overall if he was healthy, but due to an injury, he fell in the Sixers’ laps at third overall. For a team that wasn’t planning on being competitive during the upcoming season anyway, why not take a risk and draft Embiid, even if he didn’t play in his rookie year? The reward could eventually greatly outweigh the risk.

Still, we don’t know what he will turn into since he had setback after setback, and ultimately missed two full seasons due to injuries. This year, however, he’s expected to debut with the Sixers, and the hype could not be any bigger than it is at the moment.

With great hype comes great expectations, though, and it’s far from certain that Embiid lives up to those expectations (at least, right away, that is). It seems as if a lot of fans are expecting Embiid to step on the floor to play one time and transform the game of basketball altogether, and that’s simply not the case, in my mind.

To me, Embiid, who hasn’t played a competitive game of basketball in two and a half years, will have some rust that needs to be worked out in game situations before he’s even at a base level to build off of. Sure, he’s been training, but he’s been going up against coaches, most of which are over 100 pounds lighter and a foot shooter than Embiid, who stands well over 7 feet tall and near 300 pounds of what seems like pure muscle.

That type of competition certainly helps Embiid look better. What we can hold on to is the fact that his form is very good.

So when Embiid is looking great training, it might be because the competition is light. When he goes up against NBA players, that won’t be the case. And they’re not going to go easy on him, even if they want to. The competitive nature of the NBA doesn’t allow for any shortcuts to success.

Embiid is going to struggle in his first several games, and maybe for even the first several months of this season. With limited playing time, and having to adjust to playing in real game situations, that’s realistic to expect.

Now, just because I’m predicting Embiid will struggle at first doesn’t mean that we should be going up in arms if that does ultimately occur. Sports fans — and Philadelphians especially — have a tendency to overreact when things go wrong. So when Embiid is putting up 5 points, 3 rebounds, and blocking 0.2 shots per game over the first two months of the season (or a stat line similar to that) let’s avoid the words “bust” or “flop.” Let’s realize that this task of filling out to be what he originally was projected as is going to be a long and tedious one, and patience is key, even if Sixers fans are sick of waiting around for things to play out.

Embiid still can be a special player, no doubt, but being off of the floor for this long puts him at a huge disadvantage, and we shouldn’t expect Embiid to be anything more than average going into October.