Today, it was announced that Philadelphia 76ers big man, Joel Embiid, would be out indefinitely after there was swelling found in his left knee, which will require a MRI. In late January, it was revealed that Embiid had a slight tear in his meniscus and it was believed he would be back sometime in March after the All-Star Game. However, with this latest report, it appears as if Embiid will be out for the rest of the season. In 31 games, the 22-year-old center was averaging 20.2 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game and 2.5 blocks per game in his first season healthy as a professional.
If Embiid had played the rest of the season, he was the runaway pick for Rookie of the Year. However, now that Embiid is out, who will be the RoY?
The 2016 NBA Draft Class has been notoriously pathetic. People were comparing Ben Simmons to LeBron James, but the #1 overall pick broke his right foot before the season started and tests conducted in February revealed he was not healing how the 76ers thought and he would be out for the rest of the season. Brandon Ingram has been a complete non-factor in LA, so why not give the award to the next highest pick, Jaylen Brown?
At 38-21, the Boston Celtics are currently second in the Eastern Conference and only three games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed. After Avery Bradley went down with an achilles injury early in the season, Jaylen Brown was thrown into a much more impactful role with the Celtics and has absolutely flourished. In 55 games, Brown has only averaged 5.9 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game, but it is important to take a deeper look at the rookie's numbers.
Per 36 minutes, Brown is averaging 13.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Simply put, if the rookie gets minutes, he is going to produce. The knock on Jaylen Brown has always been his shooting. Brown is an athletic freak and can guard the best forwards in the NBA, but he has not been able to shoot consistently from the floor. This season, Brown is shooting 43.8% from the floor and 33.3% from three, while also nailing 71.1% of his free throws. With the continuous help of NBA coaches, I would not be surprised if Brown flourishes into one of the better players in the National Basketball Association.
Brown's numbers may not be there yet, but I would not be surprised if we see the rookie's averages continuously rise through the final stretch of the season as Brad Stevens continues to gain confidence in him. If Brown is able to bump up those averages and be a key contributor in the playoffs, I would not be surprised if the Cal product brings home some hardware in the offseason.