Guess who’s back? Back again?
It’s not Slim Shady, it’s Joel Embiid, who participated in 5v5 full court drills during Thursday’s practice.
This was the most action we’ve seen from the Sixers center since a pair of videos came out earlier this week, one showing him jogging through Philadelphia and the other featuring him playing tennis against an assistant coach in Rittenhouse Square.
Head coach Brett Brown confirmed the authenticity of those clips, and Embiid was asked Thursday how his tennis game was.
“It’s really good. I’m a really good server. They call me the black Roger Federer.”
Never change, Joel.
This was our first time seeing him take part in real basketball for the first time this preseason. He had a nasty block here on JJ Redick:
Embiid not going easy on day one. pic.twitter.com/M48gUiIr28
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) October 5, 2017
Was that a foul? I dunno, but there was a lengthy on-court discussion after the play.
Later, he hit a three on the offensive end:
Humphries and Embiid: pic.twitter.com/gRg1Igzwbq
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) October 5, 2017
I thought he looked pretty good even though he clearly wasn’t moving at full speed.
Embiid won’t appear Friday night against Boston, but said that he would like to play in the preseason.
“I think I have a pretty good chance, looking at it,” Embiid said. “I felt good today and we’ll see how my body reacts. I would like to play preseason because I think last year it helped me get in a bit of a groove. I haven’t played since January and this is the most I’ve done since January, so I was extremely rusty today.”
Embiid said he hopes conversations about returning to the floor are a two-way street.
“It’s on the medical staff and I trust them,” he said. “But at the same time, I have a voice too. I think they value my opinion. It’s about us being on the same page. If I feel good and I’m able to play, they’re going to let me play. I want to be out there obviously. I wish I was out there yesterday and I wish I was out there tomorrow. Maybe next week I’ll have a chance. We have to work together.”
Brett Brown explained that he felt like the absence of Embiid affected the team’s readiness for last night’s preseason opener against Memphis.
“It was great to see him just (go) up and down,” Brown said. “I said it to the group a few days ago, that I come in in the morning and the medical staff says ‘this is who’s healthy and who isn’t, this is what you can do with Joel.’ During that time frame, my money I could spend with Joel was good, but it was restricted to a half court. We spent two days with a large majority of our work in a half court. I felt the pain of that (Wednesday) night. Transition defense, running, we played slow. We didn’t get back. I don’t feel like that helped us. Today having Joel with no restrictions where we could actually play full court basketball, was excellent.”
It felt so empty without Embiid.
Some upgrades, some downgrades
Lost in the Embiid shuffle was the practice absence of Markelle Fultz.
The rookie is listed with right shoulder soreness and did resistance and cardio instead. He’s listed as probable for Friday night’s game.
Robert Covington was limited in training with right knee soreness and is also probable for Friday.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was upgraded to full court, 5v5 participation, but will not play against Boston.
Amir Johnson was limited with a sprained ankle and is probable for Friday while Dario Saric continues to rest.