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Jun 14 2015

Joel Embiid Is A Really, Really Slow Healer

It’s been almost a full year since Joel Embiid had two screws inserted into his right foot, and the Sixers’ big man has suffered a setback in his recovery.

Here’s the team statement from Sam Hinkie (via ESPN):

“As part of the conservative approach focused on the long-term health, recovery and care of Joel, we have been closely monitoring his progress, regularly evaluating his status and adjusting our plans accordingly,” team president and general manager Sam Hinkie said in a statement. “Recently, Joel and Sixers personnel traveled to Los Angeles for a series of routine exams with a number of physicians who have been actively involved throughout this process.

“During his visit with Dr. Richard Ferkel, a standard CT scan on Joel’s right foot revealed less healing than anticipated at this point. Our priority remains providing Joel with every opportunity to ensure he has a long and successful NBA career, and as such, these findings cause us to pause and reassess his current activities.

“Together with Joel and his representatives, we will continue to consult with the experienced team of doctors who have been an integral part of his evaluations, while also engaging in dialogue with a broader set of experts and specialists. Discussions regarding the appropriate next steps are currently ongoing and we will share an update once it becomes available.”

This is potentially very very very bad, and it’s particularly troubling given the time it’s been since the surgery and the context of his other injuries. But like the boot sighting in March, this could also mean nothing. Setbacks happen, and not all of them result in Andrew Bynum scenarios. Pessimism is warranted, though it might be best to avoid playing doctor without an M.D. and access to the 7-footer’s medical records.

One thing that’s clear: Embiid’s health, for better or worse, will play a huge role in this team’s future. If healthy, he’s the type of talent that could turn around a franchise.  D’Angelo Russell, Mario Hezonja, Kristaps Porzingis, 3-6-11, future picks, cap room — they’re important too, but trivial compared to the status of Embiid’s right foot. So here’s to a full and permanent recovery — and to this being a small stepback, rather than a major one.

  • robbybonfire23

    I read elsewhere that ~another~ surgery is being discussed. Nice going, Hinkie, you get another year of tanking, now. So happy for you.

    • egoldwein

      Where did you read that?

      • robbybonfire23

        csnphilly.com, Dei Lynam column, half-way down.

        • egoldwein
          • robbybonfire23

            How can we draft a guard, now? Also, if Embiid is done for another season, looks like we tank, again, just when I was seeing that we were working on getting Saric here, this year. Guess we can forget about that.

          • egoldwein

            First: Embiid setback is a REAL concern. Just wanted to get that out of the way…

            But you’re A: Overreacting to the update. The setback should impact their decision making going forward, in that they should still be searching for talented big men. They knew about his risks before this latest report, though this latest thing MAY factor into how risky they think he is.

            B. You’re treating “tanking” as if it’s a black/white decision. Every move the last couple years has been about stockpiling assets while preserving cap space. Losses (and ping pong balls) are a byproduct of that.

            Noel was taken because they viewed him as most talented player available, and they weren’t concerned about Ws in 2013-14. Same with Embiid.

            Saric was a value pick. They moved down two spots to get Saric, PLUS a first-round pick and a high second-round pick. As was the case with Embiid and Noel, part of why they could make that deal is that they were not concerned about short-term Ws.

            We’ll learn a lot this offseason about the direction they plan on going. At this point I think they have enough talent on roster as is to avoid a sub-25 win season — they were playing near a 30-win pace for a decent stretch with Noel at center. Give one more year of experience + draft picks + maybe Embiid (who I still think, more likely than not, is playing this year…though I’m a hell of a lot less certain than I was 12 hours ago…) But we’ll see what happens.

          • robbybonfire23

            Before this set-back, there were questions in many quarters as to whether this coming season was going to be a “tanking” season, or not? If Embiid is not available and Saric does not come here in Fall, 2014, hard to believe it will not be another tanking season.

            I do have major reservations as regards taking the best player available in any draft, when he is rehabbing damaged goods. The reversal of fortune we learned about today is always a strong possibility with these less than 100 per cent prospects, no matter what their potential for stardom.

            The Noel deal has worked out well, I would say for both teams in the deal. The best thing you can say as regards Embiid becoming a career question mark at this point, is that no one knew at the time we drafted Embiid that Clarkson was the remaining gem in the draft. So we actually haven’t been burned too badly if Embiid turns out to be a wasted pick.

            But the damaged goods nonsense REALLY needs to stop right here, Mr. Hinkie. Enough with the crap shoot mentality, already, just build this team on a solid, rather than a tenuous, shaky foundation.

  • robbybonfire23

    Just occurred to me that if the problem is merely “slow healing,” the team would not consider a second surgery. But since another surgery appears to be in play, the problem is not slow healing, it would seem Embiid has seriously aggravated his injury.

    All this raises the question as to whether they are being honest with us? Because it doesn’t look like it. Looks more like they are preparing us for the shock of a second surgery, incrementally.

  • robbybonfire23

    Just saw a Twitter that this entire situation could be a Hinkie, pre-draft smoke screen. That would be brilliant, if true – getting the Lakers to take Okafor, if we fear that Russell/Mudiay is in play as their choice. This is becoming more interesting than a “Sam Spade” movie. lol.

  • robbybonfire23

    Just saw at http://www.hoopshype.com that Russell ranked in the bottom nine per cent of defenders vs. the pick and roll, allowing an adjusted 54.1 one per cent FG percentage. Given OSU’s jr. high school pre-conference sked, this is definitely something Hinkie has to be looking at. No wonder he flew to China to check out Mudiay.

  • robbybonfire23

    I see Saric MAY come over here in 2017. May we mark this down as a REALLY bad trade now. If Payton improves off his impressive rookie season debut this is going to be another, typical, Philadelphia trade market Apocalypse. Ah, yes, the “accumulating assets” syndrome.

    I am betting Hinkie trades down and is tanking, yet again this year.

    • Evan

      Yes, it looks like he is going to do what Nikola Mirotic did this year. Very disappointing considering even when he does eventually come over he is far from a lock at becoming a good player. Hinkie has taken some risks (Saric, Lakers pick, Heat pick) and so far none of them have worked out. Hopefully that changes at somepoint.

      • robbybonfire23

        Not quite clear on your position as regards Mirotic, but I have him and Nurkic down as the two most productive NBA newcomers, this past season. But the upside is limited for players who come on board closer to 25 than to 20 years of age, we know this.

        Also, why retain Saric’s rights if old rookies are not attractive to us? I mean, we bypassed Delon, Jerian Grant, and Kaminsky in the screening and work out process, prior to this draft, so how can we not be interested in them, but vitally interested in Saric, in two years when he is 23? Doesn’t make sense, unless it is more Smoke Screen City from Hinkie, but in this case I doubt it.

        • egoldwein

          1. Who says “old rookies” aren’t attractive to Sixers?
          2. Think it’s different with a European player. Reason teams tend to shy away from “old” college players is because part of their reputation may stem from their “age” advantage. (college = 18-22). A 22 y/o playing well against professional european competition isn’t the same as a 22 y/o playing well against college kids.

          • robbybonfire23

            If this G.M. IS interested in old rookies, that means he is disqualifying Delon, Jerian, and Frank on ability-deficit issues. Who in his right mind would believe that?

            Yes, 22 year olds have a distinct advantage vs. 18-19 year olds, and we should discount their numbers and visual impressions consistent with that. But, Delon had a sensational junior year at Utah, plus Russell, to cite just one example, padded his stats vs. Ohio State’s bottom-feeder pre-conference schedule, so that Russell, young as he is, had the advantage there.*

            Good point, and one I was wondering about as regards 22/23 year olds coming out of college, vs. players the same age coming here from Europe. Got to agree with you that playing professionally in Europe is the better springboard to an NBA career.

            * UMASS Lowell
            Sacred Heart
            Campbell
            Colgate
            High Point
            Morehead State
            NC A & T
            Miami, Ohio
            Wright State

            OMG!!!

          • egoldwein

            Who says he’s disqualifying Delon/Jerian/Frank? For all we know — nothing — they could be ahead of Mudiay/Russell.

          • robbybonfire23

            Ok, tell me this, and you know Hinkie better than I do – is this smoke screen stuff prior to Hinkie trading down? He also did not screen or work out Decker, Booker, Lyles, and Tyus Jones, and just took a glimpse at Rozier. You think there is a chance that he is really interested in any of these players?

            Seems to me you screen and work out a player you are interested in. You do not, it means that you are not interested in him.

            One possible smoke screen exception – Hinkie bypassed Bobby Portis, completely. Now THAT could be Smoke Screen City. Bobby Portis is going to be quite the heavy duty stud for somebody in this league. Why in hell you would completely ignore him, well you tell me – where is Bobby Portis deficient, because I am into learning new things as a hobby.

          • egoldwein

            I really don’t know …. there’s likely a correlation between workout and interest, but it’s just that: correlation. As was the case with Exum last year … they knew as much about him as any other team. That very well might’ve been why they passed on him, rather than selected him.

            You also should consider that they’ve done their research on some of these guys, even if they haven’t hosted a workout.

          • robbybonfire23

            Excellent point as regards having already done their research. In fact, seems to me that in-game conference and Tournament play is really all a team should need in the evaluation process, apart from character monitoring, which is an important side component.

            For example, we interviewed WCS, but did not, subsequently, give him a work out. Just a guess, but I have to think that perhaps some values, attitude, and philosophical differences came out, during that screening.

        • NoJNoProb

          Robby, Evan’s point about Mirotic was that Mirotic signed an overseas contract with a team and stayed there for 3 years before coming over. He is now 24 in his rookie season. Most would argue that, in his case, the wait was worth it. If Saric takes another year or two, but is as successful as Mirotic, then I would say the wait is worth it as well.

          • robbybonfire23

            Yes, the wait will have been worth it. The give-back, of course, is the fact that the later a player makes his NBA debut, the sooner he reaches and passes his career peak and begins the downward career slide. This limits upside potential and development.

            I know we tried and there was a lot to overcome to get it done, but the frustrating part is that it would have been in Saric’s best interest, as well as our own, to bring him over here at this time. This delay, maybe for another two years, is a set-back all around.

          • robbybonfire23

            Guys coming in here 23-25 have limited time for upside development, before the career decline sets in, in late 20’s. That is another reason Saric should be coming here a.s.a.p., for the sake of his own career development, if he even wants to have a career, here? Payton breaks out big time, this coming season, some of us around here are not going to be happy, in the best Vucevik, et al, dispensing tradition.

          • NoJNoProb

            I think the idea is that he’ll already be developed. The plan is that by the time he comes over in a few years he’ll be just as developed as if he had played here for a few years.

            The benefit is that if he had stayed here and we had signed him immediately, he might play for a few years as he developed and then leave in free agency. Now once he comes over though, he’ll already be close to his best play. Instead of having him from ages 20-24 and watching a great player leave, we might have him from ages 24-28 and we get an even better player during most of his prime.

          • robbybonfire23

            That was the thinking, for decades, prior to a man actually monitoring thousands of athletes and the impact upon their production curve and their developmental curve, and determining that the opposite of conventional wisdom holds true, almost without exception.

            One of Bill James’ greatest contributions is how, at the same time he was monitoring the developmental curve, he determined, that for baseball, at least, the career peak age averages 27, not 31, as was generally assumed, simply because some guy named Stan Musial, who was 30 at the time, said so.

            So all I am saying, consistent with scientific evidence, is that the chance of Saric becoming a superstar in the NBA are greatly diminished by his coming over here closer to age 25 than age 20. We should dump him off now, in a mega-deal for a back court stud, if we can swing it.

          • egoldwein

            You’re incorrectly assuming that players don’t develop in Europe.

          • robbybonfire23

            Europe is what, the equivalent of the high minors in baseball? The Euro Leaue, we can safely assume, is not on a par with the NBA. So I maintain my stance that any professional player in any sport is forestalling his maximum development curve by not ascending to the top of the ladder at the youngest age possible.

            This is not my original thesis. You have to take it up with Bill James and the mountain of statistical evidence supporting this position, if you disagree.

    • egoldwein

      I’d hold off … I agree that, if it’s 2017 versus 2016, then that hurts Saric’s value. But we don’t know if he’s opting in or not next year.

  • robbybonfire23

    Here are the scores of the Ohio State pre-conference patsy opponents, against whom D. Russell padded his stats, before going into a funk vs. Big Ten and Tournament competition. I do not think Russell’s “credentials” warrant taking him at #3 in this draft…

    OSU 100-55 Wright State
    OSU 93-55 Miami, Ohio
    OSU 97-55 N.C. A &T
    OSU 87-71 Morehead State

    OSU 97-43 High Point
    OSU 70-50 Colgate
    OSU 91-64 Campbell
    OSU 92-55 UMASS, Lowell
    OSU 106-48 Sacred Heart

    Yet media stats with their game averages for points scored, assists and rebounds INCLUDE all games on all teams’ schedules. With an irresponsible media like that, we really have to dig a little more deeply to get the real and honest picture.

  • robbybonfire23

    O.k., here is the break-down for Russell, in the three major categories, vs. the patsies and vs. the Big Boys.

    Vs. the patsies, Russell scored 182 total points on 52 missed shots. That’s a sensational PPX of 3.50.
    Vs. the Big Boys, Russell scored 493 points on 232 missed shots. That a dreadful PPX of 2.125.

    Vs. the patsies, Russell pulled down 32 DR’s in 262 mintues of play. That’s 4.89 DR’s per 40.
    Vs. the Big Boys, Russell actually showed up, he pulled down 131 DR’s in 926 minutes of play. That’s 5.66 DR’s per 40

    And vs. the patsies, Russell totaled 49 assists in 262 minutes of play. That’s 7.48 assists per 40.
    And vs. the Big Boys, Russell totaled 126 assists in 926 minutes of play. That’s 5. 44 assists per 40.

    So here we have an AWFUL shooter/scorer vs. big-time competition, at 2.125 PPX. Delon The Greybeard came in at 3.04 PPX, vs. his big-time competition.

    The DR’s are quite alright, vs. big-time competition for Russell, no argument, there.

    But then the measly rate of under 5 1/2 assists per 40 vs. the Big Boys comes into play. Yet so many make excuses for him, saying his forwards were lousy. Well against the High Points of the world OSU forwards were the best of the Bulls, Celtics, and Lakers, redux.

    It’s in Hinkie’s hands. I think the man can do better than fall into the Russell Trap.

    Mudiay, Portis, Winslow, Porzingis, Delon, Jerian, et al, we need you now!

    • Evan

      He also played shooting guard a lot at OSU, which means he wasn’t always the first playmaker for the team, and therefore lowered his assists. Whoever Hinkie drafts between Russell and Mudiay, I will trust he makes the right decision. As of now I am leaning slightly towards Mudiay but I also still like Russell. I would be skeptical if we chose Porzingis, he is really the only one that I see being a total bust, but again I only know what I can watch on youtube. I just can’t justify a third overall pick going to a big man who appears to hate contact and can’t rebound.

      • robbybonfire23

        At SG, with its greater offensive responsibility than has PG, he was a total bust, offensively, vs. serious competition. Yet he is widely lauded as some kind of offensive howitzer by the media and fans all around the country have bought into that despicable myth.

        Also, as I have broken down, we really should not overlook how poorly he played vs. the conference and Tournament opponents, which makes him a real stretch as the third pick and first guard option in this draft.

        Finally, IF Hinkie somehow sees Russell and Mudiay as basically even on merit and hard to separate, it stands to reason that the fact that Hinkie made a trip to China to see Mudiay play would tip his choice to Mudiay, otherwise his trip to China was wasted. Seems to me that it is human nature not to want to make the exhausting round trip Philadelphia – China for essentially no positive outcome.

        • egoldwein

          If he goes to China and finds out, based on something he saw in that trip, that they want nothing to do with Mudiay, that’s not a wasted trip. Maybe it’s not the preferred outcome, but it’s a positive outcome in that it provided him with more information to make the right decision.

          • robbybonfire23

            In that case it would not be a toss-up as regards choosing between the two. My hypothetical case considers Hinkie still having difficulty making the choice, based upon what he learned over there.

  • robbybonfire23

    Got to agree with the hesitation ( Evan, below) as regards Porzingis. Not that Euro stats are easily translatable into NBA or NCAA stats, but in 50 games vs. Euro competition, Porzingis grades merely ordinary as regards DR’s with 161 in 1072 minutes playing time which equals six per 40; also he scored a total of 550 points while missing 210 shots from the floor on 207-417 shooting, for a PPX of 550/210 = 2.62, which is by no means good enough to rate him in the top-five selections this or any year. Much rather have Bobby Portis and his high-level all around game, or take Justise Winslow and switch him to SG, if we trade down.