Joel Embiid’s quest to win consecutive MVPs couldn’t have been in better shape not long ago.
For starters, he was averaging more than 35 points per game and the 76ers were cruising despite losing James Harden in the offseason.
But it turns out Embiid winning a second straight MVP wasn’t meant to be, with the big man undergoing surgery to repair a left meniscus injury.
New league rules require players to feature in at least 65 games to be eligible to win individual awards and Embiid was already getting close to missing too many games. His surgery all but ensures he will not be eligible to win MVP.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, “the door isn’t closed” on a return this season. But he is expected to miss an “extended period”, according to Woj’s report, with a more precise timeline expected following the procedure.
Injuries were always the primary concern for Embiid in the early days of his career, having missed what should have been his first two seasons in the NBA with foot issues. He then played just 31 games in his rookie season in 2016-17.
All this prompted fears of a Greg Oden-esque injury-riddle career, but Embiid bounced back from those early struggles and has managed to play 428 games over eight seasons.
Back in the present, the 76ers face the grim reality of having to play without their biggest star for an extended period.
This has proven extremely difficult for Philadelphia, with a record of 26-8 with Embiid and 4-10 without him this season.