The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Sixers Face Challenges After Reigning MVP Joel Embiid Goes Down

Keith Allison
Joel Embiid picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons

With the sudden failure of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series and the collapse of the Eagles late in the season, there was a bright spot to look at in the 76ers for Philly fans.

The bright spot became tarnished when the Sixers were fined $75,000 by the NBA because Joel Embiid was not reported to be injured when they faced off against the Denver Nuggets. When Embiid was playing this year, he was the MVP, no questions asked, averaging over 30 points and 10 rebounds a game.

That fine may have scared the Sixers into playing Embiid against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 30. During the game, Embiid wasn’t looking very mobile, and late in the fourth quarter, boom, Embiid got his knee sat on by Golden State player Jonathan Kuminga.

Embiid immediately appeared to be in pain when his knee was hit and bent too far down straight onto the hardwood. With 31 games left on the season, it is confirmed that Embiid did tear the meniscus in his left knee and will be out for at least a month.

For a big man with a lengthy list of previous injuries, especially in his knees, Embiid could easily miss more than a month. Injuries never come at a good time. With two months left on the season, losing the star player is bad news for the Sixers, who are currently in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

If Embiid takes a month to return from Feb. 9, he could play 19 games and be back for the last month which is a must-have for the Sixers going into the playoffs. If given time to get back into the rhythm of the game Embiid will be able to go into the playoffs without the rust from his injury.

Brandon Morgan, a Bucks County Community College student said, “There will be a large hole on both defense and offense that they will have to make up for in the absence of the MVP.”

The trade deadline was an important day for the Sixers. They added two players: a point guard and a shooting guard. They only gave up some meaningless second-round picks, and Furkan Korkmaz, who wanted out due to not getting playing time in the normal rotation. They also traded fan favorite Patrick Beverly, a deep rotation player in Jayden Springer and the guy Philadelphia gave the keys to the city, hometown player Marcus Morris Sr. Losing Beverly and Morris is not ideal, since they supplied toughness. But the Sixers got a major player who can score in any situation and has always had the eye of the Sixers in Buddy Hield, and a solid defensive backup point guard in Cameron Payne.

Jordan Denis, a Bucks County Community College student, said, of the additions, “I was skeptical at first but watching Buddy Hield and Cam Payne the last couple nights I like the trades.”

The Sixers had a busy trade deadline but didn’t get everything they needed without Embiid. They needed a reliable backup center who could have rotated into the starting spot while Embiid is out. The Sixers had Andre Drummond before, a rebounding machine who likes competing with Embiid and doesn’t mind being his backup if it can lead to a championship.

They did not add a true point guard who could start and facilitate the ball but did wait for a buyout. They added a native Philadelphian who can start in Kyle Lowry. He is at the very end of his career and his production has dropped off, but he can still set up the offense for Embiid and Tyrese Maxey to get to the right spots. He has also run the Nick Nurse offense and won the championship with him.

Denis said, “I don’t mind the Lowry pickup, I just want to see how he is utilized.”

If all goes right, Embiid will return in a month and everyone will be healthy, then the Sixers rotation will look like this: point guard Lowry, shooting guard Maxey, small forward Hield, power forward Tobias Harris, and Embiid.

This is a very good starting five that can compete with the best teams in the league but what will set them apart is the depth on the bench. Most teams in the playoffs will give fewer bench players a chance to play, cutting it to only about eight guys.

The Sixers bench players will mainly be De’Anthony Melton, who can shoot an amazing three-ball and rotate the guards out so guys can rest. Robert Covington or Nic Batum are there for their three-pointers and defense, and Paul Reed can give a breather to Embiid and in his own right has been a great rebounder and has improved his offensive game this year.

They also have the new additions, Payne and Kelly Oubre Jr., and all can easily play and rotate in for the starters. Denis speaks for many Sixers fans by saying, “I think we will finish as the sixth seed or worse but make the playoffs. When and if Joel Embiid comes back I like our odds on a decent playoff run.”