The Process. Those two words will elicit an extreme response from any NBA fan. Laughter, anger, and sympathy are the most common reactions. Sam Hinkie's radical method of rebuilding an awful 76ers team will live in basketball infamy as arguably the greatest show of tanking in the history of the sport. But I'm here to tell you that it isn't all bad. This season the Sixers get a rookie big man who went first overall and the eyes of the world are on him. His name is Ben Simmons. With a unique rookie point-forward like Simmons starting his career this year, it's easy to overlook the other new big man. A guy who was drafted third overall 2 years ago and has been hurt ever since. A player who garnered comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon before he got hurt.
Joel Embiid is an enigma. A 7 foot tall center who can post up, hit threes, and protect the rim. The perfect modern center with the potential to be a Karl Anthony-Towns caliber player, Embiid can be a franchise altering player who will begin his career at the same time as the best distributor Philly has had in years. Coming out of Kansas at the same time as Andrew Wiggens, a player expected to be the #1 pick in the draft, Embiid was never a featured option. But even in his limited role, he flashed all-star upside and a floor as a rebounding monster who could protect the rim.
Just recently, Joel started his NBA career in the preseason for Philadelphia, and he looked like a rookie. But if you squint, you can see the savior this franchise so badly needs. He missed his first several shots, as could be expected from a player in his first professional basketball game. But then the magic started. A tough, contested shot fading to the left out of the high post. A jump shot from a foot inside of the 3-point line. A huge block on this year's number 3 draft pick, Jaylen Brown. I saw a highlight of him hitting a 3 in transition. The potential is there. And this is a time when positives are hard to come by for Sixer Nation. But there's hope.
Tons of player with potential but couldn't live up to it. Okafor, Noel, Carter-Williams, none of them has proved to be a transcendent talent. But Embiid can do it. Coming in at the same time as Ben Simmons, this could be the dynamic duo Philly needs so badly to return to relevance. A point-forward who excels at setting up teammates for success. A center who can do everything, including shoot free throws (already better than Andre and Deandre,) is the ultimate weapon in today's pace and space NBA with more rebounds to grab and shots to take than ever. I said earlier I saw highlights of Embiid. I promise, there are many more breathtaking performances on the way from Joel "The Process" Embiid.