Even as the Philadelphia 76ers make their so-called playoff push, however unlikely, and even as they promote Joel Embiid for a starting spot at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game — and a potential date with Rihanna — the Sixers aren’t about to lift the minutes restriction they put in place for the rookie center.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown all but ended that discussion after Tuesday’s practice, telling reporters Embiid’s 28-minute cap isn’t likely to increase for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
#Sixers Brown: 'I don't believe there is' a possibility Embiid's minutes increase from 28 minutes this season.
Brown also expressed hope Embiid’s 28-minute limit won’t affect the team’s playoff chances or impact the All-Star campaign for his team’s No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft and budding franchise player.
Brown said he hopes Embiid's minute restrictions and Sixers record don't impact his All-Star votes.
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoCSN) January 17, 2017
The 76ers announced Embiid’s minutes restriction in September with the hope less playing time would mean more games played for a 22-year-old who missed his first two NBA-eligible seasons due to foot injuries. Embiid averaged 22.8 minutes through November, but once it became clear he was not only healthy, but an impact player and a lock for the league’s Rookie of the Year honor, the 76ers dialed his limit up to 28, where he’s hovered ever since. Embiid also sits out one game of each back-to-back.
The Sixers are 13.9 points better per 100 possessions with Embiid on the court, sporting an elite defense with him in the middle, so you can bet they’d like to have him play more possessions. But they’ve stuck to their guns. Embiid has reached 30 minutes just once — in a 93-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves — and there’s no doubt it’s hindered their chances, most notably when the 7-foot-2 center begged to get back into a double-overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies to no avail.
Embiid averages more blocks than any other East center while ranking second in scoring and top-10 in rebounding. Only Boban Marjanovic (!) has held opponents to a lower field goal percentage at the rim. None of that makes Embiid an All-Star lock — since he’s competing against all frontcourt players in a conference that features LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler at the top of the bill — but numbers closer to his 36-minute averages of 28 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 blocks would make it awfully difficult for fans, media, players and/or coaches to keep him off the All-Star roster.
So, yeah, the minutes limit will impact both Philadelphia’s record and Embiid’s All-Star votes, and that means the 76ers must be adamant the restriction is helping their prized player. Either that or they’re more interested in lottery odds than playoff odds. But the 76ers would never do something like that.
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