The Philadelphia 76ers have emerged as a legitimate powerhouse this season, touting a 21-9 record that is among the best in the league. Once again, reigning Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid has steered the team into contention — an intrepid showing in a year where he (and the team) was believed to be poised for a decline.
That being said, Embiid hasn’t been perfect going by the textbook definition of perfection. And it’s not for any reason detectable on the hardwood, but actually one of the pre-game kernels: availability. Of the 30 games played by the 76ers, the leading MVP candidate has already missed five.
Unfortunately for him, for the casual eye doused by a puzzling drive for senseless agenda, five has never seemed bigger.
Why it’s pure stupidity to chastise the 76ers and Joel Embiid for missing games due to injury
According to ESPN, Philadelphia has had the fifth-easiest schedule so far — a statistical estimate overblown by people who thought that a cupcake stretch with repeated games against the Pistons, Wizards, and Hornets elongated into a full 82-game slate.
Coincidentally, Embiid’s five absences due to injury or illness came against high-end playoff contenders. This has given detractors an impetus to hop into the Embiid hate train and peg his DNPs as him “ducking the smoke”.
It’s stupid. The reason for such is so elementary it doesn’t even command a lengthy word piece.
Since when did any team had an input on how scheduling should be? Some teams even go on lengthy road trips every season to accommodate events that are out of their control, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the LA Clippers with their yearly Grammy Trip, and the San Antonio Spurs with their annual Rodeo Road Trip. The NBA has never done them any favors — a testament to how scheduling is done based purely on logistics and practicality.
More jarringly, the implication that Embiid times his absences to come against playoff-caliber opponents is laughable. Against teams currently in the playoff picture, Embiid has registered 32.1 points per game. There’s zero reason for him to purposely missed those games.
Narratives — and the drive to push them — are pretty contagious nowadays. Hopefully, with some exertion of common sense and spending time away from social media, the myth that the Philadelphia 76ers and Joel Embiid shies away from marquee matchups is quelled once and for all.