Joel Embiid on Way to Becoming Fan Favorite in Philadelphia

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 5, 2014

Kansas center Joel Embiid watches the Los Angeles Lakers play the Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 13, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Grizzlies won 102-90. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Joel Embiid was as high-risk, high-reward as basketball prospects come when the Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. 

Even though he will miss significant time on the floor with an injury, he is wasting little time making himself known in the social media sphere among NBA and Philadelphia fans everywhere.

LeBron James is not only the world’s best player, he has the power to shift the entire landscape of the league as a free agent. There has been speculation surrounding the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and, of course, the Miami Heat in the early offseason, but nobody in their right mind expected him to entertain notions of coming to Philadelphia.

Nobody, that is, except the 76ers’ newest prospect, Embiid.

Embiid reached out to James on Twitter in an effort to recruit him to join Philadelphia’s youth movement, but it was to no avail. Just the fact that he thought to do something like that was an entertaining distraction for fans and commentators alike in this crazy offseason, but Embiid took it a step further when he didn’t hear back from the King:

Some thought James responded when Embiid gave up, but it appears as if he was referring to the World Cup action instead:

Perhaps Embiid’s efforts here were done with a sense of humor, but even if they were not, making himself readily available on social media will appeal to fans. If nothing else, it will keep Embiid’s name in their minds, since he won’t be taking the court anytime soon.

Back issues at Kansas forced him to miss the NCAA tournament, and the Jayhawks were quickly eliminated. He was still seen as a potential No. 1 pick in the draft, but when news broke that his foot needed surgery, those dreams vanished.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26:  A video screen shows the selection of Joel Embiid of Kansas as the #3 overall pick in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2014 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 26, 2014 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

He discussed his worries on the Dan Patrick Show, via CBS Philly:

With the latest injury, I thought I was going to drop to like–I don't know–maybe top-15? Maybe second-round [laughs]? I mean, people, you know how people are like. The way they are just talking, everyone on social media, so I bought into that. I was also listening to my agent who told me good things, but I mean I thought was going to drop to the second-round. I was kind of surprised they took me at [number] three.

Embiid still has the potential to be the best player in the entire 2014 draft class if he bounces back from his latest setback. He is an elite 7'0" center on both ends of the floor who can control the paint on defense with his blocked shots and rebounding prowess and score at will at times with a versatile offensive arsenal.

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 24:  Joel Embiid #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks looks to pass the ball against D.J. Bennett #31 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the second half at Allen Fieldhouse on February 24, 2014 in Lawrence, Kansas.  Kansas won 83-75. (Photo by Ed Zu
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

If and when he is paired with Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia will have a daunting frontcourt that could lead it back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.

Matt Lombardo of NJ.com noted that there was an element of debate among the 76ers fanbase about the Embiid pick, but if he ultimately leads them back to relevance on the court, it will be more important on his path to becoming a fan favorite than anything he does in social media. 

After all, blocking James on the court will carry much more weight than blocking him on Twitter.

 

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