Joel Embiid might never play a game for the Sixers, according to many self-appointed basketball and medical experts over the past couple of years. Not only is he playing games for the Sixers now, but he just might be heading to the all-star game in a Sixers uniform.

When an injury brought an early end to Joel Embiid’s only season of college basketball at Kansas, the big man went from being as close to a pure lock for the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft as there was to being compared to Greg Oden, who never saw his NBA career really take off due to his own injury issues. When big men get hurt, it becomes a big concern. The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft but was then ruled unlikely to play in his first season in the pros due to a broken bone in his foot. At a time when the 76ers were undergoing a massive shift in how the franchise was being run under former general manager Sam Hinkie, fans were being asked to “trust the process” as the Sixers looked to a more long-term future rather than immediate turnaround. Embiid would become the face of the “Trust the Process” movement as fans rallied behind the idea that patience would lead to a brighter future with sustained success, even if that meant having to wait a while to catch a glimpse of Embiid in action.

The anticipation grew over the year as it was expected Embiid would get a chance to play in the 2015-16 season, but a setback in his recovery led to more frustration among Trust the Process critics and fans still believing in the master plan. Embiid would end up missing the entire 2015-16 season following surgery on his right foot. Once more, those taking aim at the Sixers felt they had some good ammo as the Sixers were continuing to ask fans to believe in the long-term future while the losses continued to pile up in embarrassing fashion on the court.

Thanks for the medical opinion. I now know never to consult with you the next time I need medical advice!

As the Sixers were stockpiling players they believed could become the nucleus of the franchise for years to come or key trading pieces to build a solid roster, what to do with Embiid was often questioned. Should the Sixers accept the reality of the situation and simply move on from Embiid at whatever cost just to focus on other players on the roster like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor? The three big-men dilemma had no shortage of opinions on what to do.

For Joel Embiid takes and criticisms of the Sixers, one man in Philadelphia sports media has become The King in this game. Howard Eskin has never been shy about taking shots at the Sixers, so the Joel Embiid saga has given Eskin plenty of opportunities to serve up some predictions that turned out to be way off the mark. What makes it even more humorous is Eskin’s son, Spike Eskin, is among the leaders of the Trust the Process movement. The two of them have had some great back-and-forth commentary on the Sixers that have caught our eye, although the elder Eskin seemed to take more shots at the now former GM of the Sixers, Sam Hinkie. Embiid was merely the offspring of what Eskin felt was a scam.

As for Embiid, well, he did this yesterday.

Embiid seems to be playing just fine here in the year fo 2017 so far. And the Sixers may be turning a corner and are destined to get better once 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons gets into the mix. Maybe this process is working out well after all. Embiid may even be Rookie of the Year, three years after being drafted.

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.

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