Did you know that Joel Embiids is sitting out this season due to a knee injury which will keep him out for the rest of the year? I know people are saying that Yogi Ferrell has been spectacular and did play well in his place of honor, but Joel Embiids has been absolutely terrific the entire year and is a lock for rookie of the year. Some say that it’s just because of the injuries and the fact that Embiids is coming off an injury. However, I wonder if this could also be a situation where rookies surround a veteran star player that can’t play because of the injury. We’ve seen it in New York with Carmello and later Deja coming along and outperforming expectations. This could happen again to Joel Embiids.
Joel Embiids had a good year statistically, averaging 17 PPG, shooting better than career averages, rebounding at a very good clip, playing solid defense, and assisting on buckets. But does anyone really remember Joel Embiids’ name during the NBA Finals last year? It seems that he gets lost in the crowd every time he suits up for a game. He’ll get some votes and be recognized as the best player but how many of those votes will come from the media? I don’t see anyone standing up there for the MVP because Joel Embiids is basically a media star.
Embiids is part of a team that has major expectations this year. They’ve acquired a lot of talent and traded for a proven star in Paul Pierce, who they hope can make them a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. If we’re going by media members and analysts, they expect the Seattle Super Sonics to be one of the better teams in the NBA this year.
The Sonics have one of the best front lines in the league with their big three of rookies Andre Miller, Rashard Lewis, and rookie Brandon Roy. They also have an all around player in Jason Terry, who can switch between three-point shots and is playing the point guard position. They are deep at the center position with Al Harrington and Kwame Brown, so if anyone needs a rest, they can count on hitting the three pointer. There’s not been a lot of outside shooting ability, but I wouldn’t read too much into it.
Embiids injured his right knee while playing for Villanova. He underwent surgery but didn’t miss much of the season. He was a bit banged up, but the truth is that most of the time he bounces back quickly. His confidence is high, and I doubt that he’ll miss any games this year. He’s one of the best rebounders in the NCAA, and when you have a player like that, you can be pretty certain that they’ll play through any pain.
The Bucks are deep at the center position, with Channing Phillips, Daequan Cook, and Greivn Porch. They don’t play a traditional big man style of basketball, which means that Embiids will likely be shadowed on the court. That won’t do him any good, though. If he’s going to block shots, he has to do it with both hands. When he blocks a shot, he has to make sure that he rolls his ankle while shifting his body to block the follow-through.
Milwaukee’s young nucleus has given the Bucks another weapon. Giannis Antetokounmpo has blossomed into one of the most athletic big men in the NBA. He’ll run the floor and hit the open three-point shots, and Khrismith (who’s played only three career games) should provide solid minutes at the shooting guard position. Milwaukee has a depth which is crucial if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
But it’s probably more about the Bucks than Joel Embiids. He’s obviously a key contributor, but the Bucks won’t make the same sort of noise as contenders like OKC or Dallas without him. This is an important off-season for the franchise, and it all comes back to how they can build on last season’s team performance. If they can’t get better, it’ll be hard to make any kind of buzz about the Bucks in the future. But with the right moves, some bright outside talent, and the right healthy bodies, the Bucks could still challenge for a top spot in the Eastern Conference.