76ers center Joel Embiid may just be the second coming of Hakeem Olajuwon (or Wilt Chamberlain!) — but he’ll have to play to find out. Embiid played just 31 games last year, and played them well enough to sign a giant $148 million contract before the 2017-18 season. (He had a shot at NBA Rookie of the Year, but just didn’t qualify on minutes.) Then this week Embiid learned that the Sixers, long in the process of rebuilding, were still going to limit Embiid’s minutes — a minutes restriction meant to keep the team’s investment safe for the long haul. Embiid railed against minutes restriction, calling it “f__ing b__sh_t” according to Deadspin.
Embiid has been as patient as 76ers fans as “The Process” of rebuilding wore on. And the big man does play all-out every minute he’s on the floor — so concern and caution are valid. But Embiid wants to play. Hakeem played. Wilt played. And played and played. Thinking he’d be limited to game restriction minutes in the “teens,” Embiid got a pleasant surprise in the season opener: almost 27 minutes on the floor. The 76ers lost to the Wizards 120-115. Embiid made 7-of-15 shots for 18 points.