Joel Embiid may have only played a total of 31 games over his first three NBA seasons, but apparently he made the best-possible impression in that short span.
On Monday, Embiid agreed to a five-year, $148 million designated rookie scale maximum contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
As if $148 million wasn’t enough, the big man also has incentives built in that can earn him an additional $30 million. In order for him to receive the full amount, he must earn an All-NBA First, Second or Third Team honor or be named the MVP this season.
In just 25.4 minutes over his 31 contests last season, Embiid was virtually unstoppable on both ends of the court, averaging an amazing 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.5 blocks per game. The 7-footer also showed deadly accuracy from beyond the three-point line, making him impossible to guard, as he knocked down 36-of-98 attempts (36.7 percent) from deep.
Before Monday's preseason game against the Boston Celtics, head coach Brett Brown told reporters that Embiid transforms Philadelphia’s entire roster with ”his physical presence; he does it with a defensive mindset, and he does it with an offensive target that is different than anything else that we have.”
"When he has been able to practice with us, he has changed the gym," the coach said.
While Brown acknowledged that Embiid’s durability has to improve and that he’s still a bit raw in a couple of areas, the coach knows that the young star’s potential is sky-high.
"You don't give up that tag freely -- but he has a chance to be great," Brown said. "There's still a lot of work to be done. You know, when you look at his body of work -- only playing 31 games, and really he's only been playing basketball for six years, and he's 23. He's just scratching the surface."
More than anything, the move places Embiid as the face of the franchise. On a squad with a pair of No. 1 overall picks (Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons) and a youthful core, Embiid is the first of the youngsters to earn a gigantic contract.
"He does things on a court that remind me of, you know, somebody that's able to hear music and just play the song," Brown noted. "You know, he will study [Tim] Duncan, or study KD, or another player, and all of a sudden it's a part of his game. He's very unique, very unique.”
The Sixers will hope and pray that their big man can stay on the floor for the majority of the season and for the foreseeable future.