I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the ‘Trust the Process’ movement. I had no misgivings about Ben Simmons injury, nor should I, given his age and history. J.J. Redick is a savvy NBA veteran whose shooting stroke would have fit in anywhere. Robert Covington showed tremendous potential last year as a three-point shooting, defensive specialist. And Dario Saric had a solid year last year.
Also, the big question mark had nothing to do with Markelle Fultz’s bizarre injury sidelining him since October. Everything in this ‘Process’ had to do with the reoccurring foot and knee injuries that have stagnated Joel Embiid’s career. This year has proven to be much different as the third year big man has remained relatively healthy through his first 73 games.
All of that good news came to a crashing halt on Thursday. The team announced that Embiid would be placed in the league’s concussion protocol. He will also need surgery to repair an orbital fracture after colliding with, ironically enough, Fultz whose presence fans had been clamoring for.
It’s been reported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the 76ers expect him to miss 2-4 weeks. His regular season has closed, and he is in jeopardy of missing the first round of the playoffs.
Let’s consider the impact that Embiid has had on the team this year.
A Healthy Embiid
The impact of the play of Embiid when on the court is quite staggering.
According to NBA Advanced Stats, with Embiid the 76ers have outscored opponents by 11.6 points per 100 possessions. When he is off the floor, the 76ers have been outscored by 3.9 points per 100 possessions.
The good news for the team is this is not the same team that we began the season with. With the additions of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, along with the return of Fultz, the team is deeper. This will allow Coach Brett Brown to work these players more into the rotation, while also experimenting with playing Saric at the center position in smaller lineups. All of this could be matchup nightmares all over the place with Ben Simmons ability to evenly distribute the ball.
As the Season Progresses
One thing 76ers fans can look forward to is that the schedule can’t suddenly change. The majority of teams that Philadelphia faces are driving General Sherman’s tank (forgive the musty old reference) racing for draft lottery positioning. There is also good news that one of the two playoff teams they face is against a Cavaliers team still trying to find its way without the services of Kevin Love for the foreseeable future. The bad news is that a loss to them could eliminate them from the third seed.
All things considering though, I think ‘The Process’ has worked.