Joel Embiid injury history and updates

Joel Embiid injury update (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid injury update (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

How often has Sixers center Joel Embiid been injured in his career?

Updated Sunday, June 6th

His unfair injury-prone reputation might make you think he has been injured more than he actually has been.

While Embiid has had his fair share of injuries throughout his career, his DNP history as of late mirrors that of a fairly typical NBA player. The early stages of his career were defined by an injury narrative, one that came with multiple surgeries, setbacks, and constant Twitter investigation from diehard Sixers fans concerned about their future star’s health.

But since then, Embiid has overcome a lot in his career to become an MVP candidate in 2021. Here’s a comprehensive look at his injury history to date and all we know about his most recent injury so far and what it means for the Sixers. As a point of clarification — Embiid has been held out of games in the past for protective reasons. The team has at times held a policy that Embiid would sit back-to-back games even when healthy.

Joel Embiid injury update

As of early June 2021, Joel Embiid has been diagnosed with a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Fortunately for him and Sixers fans, it does not rule him out entirely for the remainder of the postseason, but the Sixers are going to have to monitor him closely. Notably, this is also a different knee than the one that suffered a bone bruise earlier in the season keeping him out for several games.

Prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Embiid would play.

Despite the partial tear, the injury is being classified as day-to-day, and it kept Embiid out of the Sixers Game 5 closeout over the Washington Wizards. It’s unknown whether or not Embiid could have played. Being a relatively unimportant game for the Sixers who held a two-game lead over the Wizards, Embiid probably wouldn’t have played either way.

Here’s some perspective from Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice on what the day-to-day management means for the Sixers and Embiid:

"The overwhelming consensus from the doctors consulted on the issue — and the Sixers have spoken to many before releasing their statement on Wednesday, sources say — is that Embiid’s injury is an issue that will have to be treated based on the symptoms he experiences on a day-to-day basis. In practical terms, that will mean managing and being aware of various issues, including but not limited to Embiid’s pain tolerance, swelling in the impacted area, and overall health and fitness throughout the playoffs."

It’s not great for the Sixers. Embiid — one of the most dominant players in the game — is the team’s best player and there’s no telling how he’ll perform with the partially torn meniscus once he returns on Sunday. Embiid is dominant, but you just never know how far an injury like this will prevent his strength and fluidity.

The Sixers will need to make adjustments if he can’t play.

Check back for updates on Embiid’s availability for the Eastern Conference Semifinals and beyond.

Joel Embiid knee bruise, 2021

Joel Embiid suffered a bone bruise in his left knee and missed 10 games, returning in April. The injury that held Embiid out for a substantial period of time, likely impinging his MVP case in the process.

Still, Embiid closed the season averaging 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists, his best season-to-date by far.

Joel Embiid shoulder injury, 2020

Embiid missed five straight games in 2020 due to a strained left shoulder.

Joel Embiid torn hand ligament injury, 2020

Embiid underwent surgery in January to repair a torn ligament in his left hand, keeping him out for nine games in total. He averaged 22.4 points and 11.0 rebounds in the 10 games following.

Joel Embiid sore knee injury 2019

A sore left knee kept Embiid out of eight consecutive games in the tail-end of the 2019 regular season.

Joel Embiid orbital fracture, 2018

Embiid sustained an orbital fracture in 2018 that kept him out of 10 straight games, including the first two games of the Sixers opening playoff round series against the Miami Heat. Upon returning, Embiid helped lead the Sixers over the Heat before the Sixers were eliminated in five games by the Celtics in the Semifinals.

Embiid also wore his infamous black protective mask (which was “indestructible”, made of a specially engineered combination of fibers and fashioned specifically for Embiid with custom goggles integrated into the mask) during this period.

Joel Embiid injury update
Joel Embiid injury update (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

Joel Embiid meniscus surgery, 2017

After playing 31 games in his rookie season, Sixers fans were faced with yet another deflating Embiid injury. Embiid missed the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee.

Joel Embiid foot injury setback, 2015

Embiid missed his entire rookie season and would also miss his should-have-been sophomore season as well due to a setback in his healing process to the pre-draft foot injury.

No matter. The Sixers were bad (again) and went into the draft lottery (again) due, in part, to his absence. It was disappointing but not earth-shattering for the still-processing Sixers.

Joel Embiid foot injury, 2014 NBA Draft

Embiid’s perhaps unfair “injury-prone” reputation is in part because his career was mired with injury before it even began. Just days before the NBA Draft in 2014, Embiid underwent a surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. Thought to be the runaway No. 1 pick, teams instantly shied away from selecting Embiid at the top of the draft, except for the Sixers and then-general manager Sam Hinkie.

Hinkie, obsessed with finding diamonds in the rough and players who would outplay their draft position, could not possibly give up Embiid at No. 3. The idea of getting a No. 1 talent two slots below, while also knowing he would likely miss his first year giving the Sixers good odds at another lottery pick the next season, was almost too perfect for “The Process”.

It worked out well. Embiid has proven that he should have been the first overall pick that year, stress fracture or not.

15 greatest draft picks in Sixers history. dark. Next