By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — Coming into tonight’s NBA Draft, things were split among experts and fans on what the Sixers would, and should do with their draft picks. The team wound up not trading up to the top spot in the draft, all but ending their pursuit of Andrew Wiggins. The team did not walk away with a player that would be ready to go on day one. Instead they selected Joel Embiid.
This off-season has been amazingly tumultuous for the consensus number one pick. Embiid was said to be the top player on the Cleveland Cavaliers board until a broken foot forced him into surgery and brought things into question.
Someone was going to take a chance, despite the injury and the Sixers were that team. Despite acquiring injured centers the last two off-seasons (neither of which have taken the court in a Sixers jersey yet) Sam Hinkie and the Sixers could not pass on Embiid who has drawn comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon.
Like his new teammate, Nerlens Noel, Embiid may not see a minute of action in his first year. The Sixers made it clear that their eyes are set on the future. The last two seasons, the team has now acquired the player that was seen as the consensus number one player by the majority of analysts.
Can the two play together? That will be tough to answer, but Hinkie and Brett Brown appear up to the challenge.
Embiid also seems up to the challenge of proving people wrong. Thoughts of injured big men of the past have crept into most people’s minds. Similar injuries hampered the careers of big men like Bill Walton and Yao Ming.
Embiid has expressed that he is determined to take the court as soon as possible for his new team and he was all smiles when he heard he was going to the Sixers. There was a delay where Embiid was in California, so it appeared at first on TV that he wasn’t so thrilled to go to the Sixers, but in a good PR move he quickly cleared things up.
One person with vast knowledge of Embiid, Kansas Head coach Bill Self, met with the media following the selection of Embiid and Wiggins and was happy to hear where Embiid was going.
“I was pleasantly surprised with where Joel is going,” Self said. He also added that he was in contact with the Sixers prior to the draft and assured them that they were getting a game changer in Embiid.
Self also touched on Embiid’s injury issues late last season at Kansas and on his latest issue with his foot. “[The back injury] definitely hurt us,” Self said who was without Embiid in the NCAA tournament. “I know what everybody knows. I don’t know if he plays this year.”
The Sixers have yet to comment on their selection and are expected to meet with the media on Friday. It will be interesting to see if the team prescribes to the exact same philosophy that they did with Noel.
Either way, the Sixers showed they are ready to take on the challenge of developing the new “Twin Towers,” and Hinkie is making it clear that he is going to do things his way.
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