Czerwonka: Joel Embiid’s historical season ruined by a knee injury

Embiid graphic. - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

Just a few weeks ago, Joel Embiid became the ninth player in NBA history to score 70 points. Along with the career and franchise high, he collected 18 rebounds, joining Michael Jordan as the only player to ever do that. Many around the NBA considered him the favorite to win his second consecutive MVP award, one of only twelve people to achieve that feat. 

Many know Embiid’s long history of injuries, especially in his knees. Some may recall the most recent one that occurred during the 2021 playoffs, where Embiid suffered a small meniscus tear in the first round against the Washington Wizards in game four. He would then go on to be cleared for game one of the second round against the Atlanta Hawks, and everyone knows how that series went. But, even with the history of knee injuries, this is Embiid’s first time since his rookie season that he’ll be missing 10 or more consecutive games. 

This nagging knee injury has been giving Embiid issues for weeks. In early January, the reigning MVP missed three games against the Bulls, Kings, and Rockets, at the beginning of the month. 

After missing the Denver and Portland games, Embiid went on to play in Chase Center against the Warriors. However, down by 12 and with not much time left in the fourth quarter, Embiid was still in the game. It was clear that Embiid didn’t look his best, as he just wasn’t as effective on either end of the court, and he shot 5/18 from the floor. After committing his season-high eighth turnover of the night, he dove on the ground to recover the ball. While on the floor, 21-year-old Warriors guard Jonathan Kuminga landed on Embiid’s injured left knee. 

Now with another meniscus injury, there were two options for Embiid to go through. One was to let the injury rehab and heal over time and hopefully come back for the playoffs, while the other option was to get surgery on the left knee.

First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Embiid will go through the surgery and is expected to miss “an extended period of time.” His timetable for a return hasn’t been clarified yet, however, there’s still some hope around the organization. According to the Athletic’s Shams Charania, the best possible scenario is that Embiid is back in 1-2 months. Most recently reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, after a successful knee procedure, Embiid is expected to be reevaluated in four weeks. 

No matter the timetable, Embiid’s hopes of winning back-to-back MVP awards and an All-NBA selection are out the window, as the NBA introduced a new policy stating that in order for a player to win awards, a player must play 65 total games. As mentioned earlier, before the injury, it was most likely that Embiid was going to go back-to-back. However, with this new rule in place, that most definitely takes him out of the race in contention for MVP. 

As for the Sixers themselves, this injury threatens to completely derail the season. In fact, it’s already started, as the Sixers have lost the last six out of the seven games, with the one win coming against the Jazz. The team is currently at the 5th seed and will want to stay within the top six seeds in order to not have to go through the play-in. 

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