The 76ers might as well roll out the bubble wrap and put protective padding around Joel Embiid, just like the character Jake Berman in the 1994 Warner Brothers movie, The Little Giants.
Bryan Colangelo, Embiid’s doctors and whoever else is making the scared decision to sit him as often as the Sixers do shouldn’t hold back if they’re going to treat the rookie a fragile glass package traveling cross country. He’s too valuable to take the risk of fracturing, bruising or even breaking a toe nail.
If you haven’t realized yet, this is 100 percent sarcasm. The 76ers are being super soft with their 7′ center.
Now, you might be thinking, this is the most obvious take ever from a person who was against the Sam Hinkie plan and has the false hope of the 76ers going deep into the postseason. If so, you’re incorrect.
I understand the argument of making sure the franchise cornerstone isn’t damaged goods once the 76ers become legitimate contenders. I also under no circumstance believe the Sixers are capable of contending this season beyond a first round exit in the playoffs.
But you, Hinkie supporter or not, and I should want the Sixers to make the postseason even if it’s as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, which is something they won’t be able to do unless Embiid is allowed to operate in the drivers seat, rather than be forced to sit in the back of the car because it’s safer.
Let’s start with analytics for all the Hinkie-ites. Instead of the 76ers finishing in the lottery for the fifth consecutive season, it makes more sense to make the playoffs and finish with a better record than the Kings so they swap selections.
Heading into Thursday, the Sixers were four games back in the East and Sacramento two and a half in the West. The Kings are destined to fall apart, trade DeMarcus Cousins or just flat out miss the postseason despite all that. If the 76ers get in and the Kings don’t, Sixers can go back into the lottery even if they finish in the top eight of the East. Then, if the Lakers fall out of the top three, they get two lottery picks.
Two lottery picks and a playoff birth are better than no playoff birth and two lottery picks. It’s simple math that even a non Hinkie-ite like me can understand.
In addition to analytics, making the postseason would be a fun run the fan base deserves. It would also put the Sixers on the national stage more, making it easy to draw free agents.
Lastly, Embiid, the crown jewel in protective casing, said the team is eyeing a postseason birth, even when it seemed extraordinarily impossible. It’s not a long shot anymore, but he won’t be able to fulfill that prophecy if he’s kept out of games with a knee contusion, which is a bruise.
When the news broke earlier this week that Embiid wouldn’t play against the Kings or travel to Texas, Brett Brown said there are no “red flags” and they’re “going overboard” to do the right thing for Embiid’s health.
How is Embiid supposed to learn how to play through injury for a long period of time like Allen Iverson did if he can’t suit up with a knee bruise? The center plays with a reckless abandon regardless. The old adage is if an athlete worries about injury, that’s when he’ll get injured.
Unfortunately, Embiid will always be more injury prone than others because he’s huge and has a history with fractures. But, there’s very little that can be done to 100 percent prevent the man from getting hurt. So, why be overcautious?
Embiid is sensational. The Sixers are must-watch television, but you can forget about the postseason if Jahlil Okafor is starting multiple games to pull down one measly rebound, while the Mavericks’ Salah Mejri puts on a rebounding performance that is close to what Wilt Chamberlain would do back in the day.
Yo, Sixers, take off the training wheels and ride the Embiid wave to the postseason.