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Joel Embiid The Face Of Hard Luck, Need For Change In NBA Age Policy

In a business where timing is key, Joel Embiid required foot surgery just days before the draft, likely losing the fortune he would have earned a year ago.

Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid stands as Julius Randle’s Exhibit A in his brewing debate with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

After widely being projected as the top overall pick in next week’s NBA draft, Embiid now finds himself falling on mock draft boards as swiftly as jersey sales once nose-dived for the fellow injured big-man likes of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden.

Such is the hard luck life of the former Kansas star suffering a foot injury that required two screws to be inserted into his foot and surgery that is expected to sideline him for up to six months, just days before his crowning moment.

In a business where timing is everything, Randle took Silver to task this week for daring to propose an increase to the NBA age limit from 19 to 20 and thus a longer required wait for can’t-miss prospects like himself to cash in on all their blessings. No, it’s not Silver’s fault that Embiid got hurt and now even worries some GMs as actually being injury-prone, but it is the new commissioner’s dogged determination that could force him and the likes of Randle, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Aaron Gordon to all have to wait a longer stretch to embark upon performing the life work they were seemingly born to do.

And why, all that some GM or even scouts’ job may become easier, or some college coach’s road to NCAA riches might be even more everlasting? Indeed, maturity is maturity, but there are no guarantees that a NBA player will seemingly by osmosis become any better at his profession simply because he grows a bit older every twelve months. What’s to be gained by prolonging what’s almost certain to be the inevitable?

“I think everybody should have free choice, whether it’s going to the NBA after high school, college, four years of college,” Randle said after his pre-draft workout with the Lakers earlier this week. “Who is going to tell the kid when he’s ready?”

During the recent NBA Finals, Silver told reporters of his unwavering mandate, saying “I believe and continue to believe it will be in the best interest of the league. I think there’s definitely a role for the D-league. I don’t think that Division-I basketball as we know it and enjoy it is going away anytime soon, but I think that the D-league can be a viable alternative for a young man who decides that college isn’t the right choice, for whatever reason.”

But why should Julius Randle, or, for that matter,  anyone else deemed worthy enough, only have that option of having the D-League to play, a league where they would be compensated for their talents for not even pennies on the dollar compared to what an early NBA start could offer? As it is, Joel Embiid will now never earn the fortune he might have and part of that has to do with the way the league rules with such an ironclad policies.

Back in April, Parker also slammed the rule and its proposed changes as “ridiculous,” adding “a lot of people can enroll in service for their country, but they don’t want to give them an opportunity to provide for themselves and go apply for a job in the NBA.”

Joel Embiid couldn’t agree with him more.

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