Joel Embiid’s debut season with the Philadelphia 76ers has been a joy to watch. Two years away from the court due to foot problems appeared to put his career in jeopardy, but Embiid has thankfully returned with all the skills he flashed in his lone college season. He still has one of the highest ceilings of any big man in the NBA.
The only damper on Embiid’s season has been a sensible minutes limit that only allows him on the court for 25 minutes per game. And that limit frustrated the Sixers center quite a bit right before the second overtime of Wednesday night’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Shortly after missing a very tough potential winner at the OT buzzer, Embiid ventured over to the Philly bench and engaged in conversation with a team doctor. He must have informed Joel he was already at 27 minutes, because the 22-year-old was not happy to learn he wasn’t going out to try to extend the team’s winning streak to three games. Take a look:
Whether due to Embiid’s absence or not, the Sixers fell behind the Grizzlies early in the second OT on their way to a 104-99 loss. Embiid could be seen asking his coaches to go back in during the final minute, but Brett Brown and his staff did not submit despite being locked in a one-possession game. Yet Brown did welcome Embiid’s passion:
"Brett, if you could have played Embiid in the 2nd overtime, would it have made a difference?" Brown: "Yes." Says he respects Embiid's anger
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) November 24, 2016
Embiid surely would have helped, but there was really no reason for Brown to bring him back into the game. The Sixers are not likely to challenge for a playoff berth this season and have to continue to think long-term. Embiid is still only in the early part of his career and should not push himself too hard when the potential rewards are so minor. As such, he had to settle for a frustrating loss in which he put up 12 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and seven turnovers.
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The good news here is that there doesn’t seem to be a looming controversy. Embiid got mad because he wanted to win a game, not because he felt he was being unfairly constrained. He chatted with several Grizzlies after the game with no apparent anger and did not seem to hold a grudge. Plus, his head coach has accepted his anger as a sign of his passion.
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