By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Joel Embiid has not played a single game in his first two NBA seasons.

Embiid — the Philadelphia 76ers’ third-overall selection in 2014 — has dealt with back-to-back foot surgeries, but NBA minutes are finally on the horizon for the promising seven-foot 22-year-old.

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Sixers coach Brett Brown told the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show on Tuesday that it is his “strong belief” that Embiid will be on the floor for game one of the 2016-17 season.

“I feel like he’s coming along tremendously,” Brown told Michael Barkann and Ike Reese. “I feel like, from a maturity standpoint and the reality of the professionalism that is required for him to be money and just perfect with the rehab, pre-hab, nutrition, all of that with his foot is ever present in Joel Embiid.

Listen: Brett Brown on the 94WIP Mike & Ike Show

 

“I think that he is all over the place, on track, to have just a solid first-year. There could be minute restrictions on his first-year where we start of the season slowly with him. But in general, I know he’s just so excited to get out there and play basketball again.”

Brown, accompanied by his son, will represent the 76ers at next Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery. The Sixers are hoping for four first-round selections, including the No. 1 overall pick. Worst case scenario, they’ll have three picks: four, 24, and 26. Best case scenario equals four picks: one, four, 24, and 26.

“Watching the draft, watching the higher end of the draft, watching the NCAA playoffs you can’t help but always play the game like all of us do — where does the ping pong ball fall?” Brown said. “Do we get the Lakers’ pick? If you get the first pick, what would you do? If you got one and four, what would you do? If you fell to four, what would you do?

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“I said many times, it’s probably one of the few nights where you do feel nervous, you know? You’re sitting there watch your fate determined a little bit by a ping pong. I’m just very honored to have that role in this year’s lottery.”

The consensus top two players in this year’s draft class are Ben Simmons (6’10”) and Brandon Ingram (6’9″), both long wing-guards (although some see Simmons potentially playing more of a point-guard role). Other combo guards like Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray, and Kris Dunn sit atop draft boards as well.

With three big-men — Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Embiid — already on their roster, this guard heavy draft bodes well for the Sixers.

“I think we’re a little passed get the best player available,” Brown admitted. “And it’s a little bit easier for me to say that, because when you look at the higher end of the draft, the higher end of the draft — by most draft boards and people’s opinions, which we agree with — is they’re wings. When you look at the abundance of bigs that we have, this year’s draft favors us a little bit more if we are successful in getting the highest pick that we can. It would tilt, according to many mock drafts, to equal a small perimeter player. So I think, by that standard, by that measure, I feel like we’re gonna be in pretty good shape.”

Simmons was the consensus No. 1 overall pick at one point this past season, but after falling short of reaching the NCAA tournament during his freshman season at LSU, questions about his shooting and character arose.

“I coached Ben Simmons’ father for five years in Australia in the late 80’s and I’ve known his family and dad his whole life,” Brown said. “And you look at his evolution, very ironic that he’s ended up where he’s ended up in this position.”

In addition to Embiid and, potentially, four first-round picks, Sixers fans hope their team adds Turkish forward and 2014 12th overall selection Dario Saric to the team. However, while Brown believes Saric is finally ready to join the NBA as many reports indicate, it’s not one hundred percent certain.

So if Saric stays in Turkey for a third season, would the Sixers retain his rights?

“Yes, we would,” Brown answered. “We most definitely would.

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“I feel like that speculation that you’re talking about, it is real. It’s important to keep it nice and transparent. That is a possibility. I just, I don’t know, my gut feeling of progressive conversations that we have had, I believe without doubt he wants to come to the NBA. So only with time we will know, but I feel like that will happen in the next six to eight weeks.”