"The future is bright," Sixers big man Joel Embiid declares, and who's to argue with him after his impressive return Wednesday, his first game action after spending the past eight months recovering from a torn meniscus in his left knee.
The 7-2, third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft had 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block in the Philadelphia’s 133-114 victory over the host Brooklyn Nets.
"Joel Embiid shows he's worth every penny in debut as Sixers handle Nets," Philly.com's headline read, a first assessment since he agreed to a five-year, $146.5 million extension.
This much is clear: If he can stay healthy (an Embiid-sized if), then he will be a force, a potent mix of size, skill and strength.
Who's the point guard and who's the center? pic.twitter.com/hTFXU9P2CZ— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 12, 2017
Consider this: The numbers Embiid posted Tuesday, albeit in a preseason game, came in less than 15 minutes of action. He left the game with just more than eight minutes to play in the third quarter.
“I didn’t expect that, but I’ve been working hard all summer,” Embiid said of his production. “I didn’t have a lot of time on the court. So I feel like I’m still behind. But with repetition, it’s going to come.”
And the 76ers realize they've got a monster on their hands.
“It’s just a very potent offensive package that people sort of have to game-plan for,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Embiid’s versatility. “We see the impact that he makes on the defensive end and all over the place.
“Something like tonight will remind us all that’s why he was paid what he was paid.”