Sixers questioning Joel Embiid’s conditioning, maturity after sending him home from recent West Coast trip

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The Sixers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, knowing full well that he would be unable to contribute during the upcoming season.

Philadelphia is in a very public rebuilding situation, one that they feel requires them to add pieces to the roster that will be long-term solutions, even if in the short-term, that means piling up the losses.

That could work out just fine, provided the scouting is on point, and provided that the players they select are committed to developing their skill sets as professionals.

But it appears as though that last part has been lacking with Embiid. The team is seeing him struggle with his weight, and his maturity and work ethic are being called into question.

From Keith Pompey of Philly.com:

Embiid has a weight issue. Although the Sixers wouldn’t disclose his weight, a source said he’s close to 300 pounds after being 250 pounds at Kansas last season.

His work ethic is being questioned by some inside the organization.

And a blowup with assistant strength and conditioning coach James Davis is one of the reasons he was sent home during the team’s recent West Coast road trip. …

The Sixers are trying to address the added weight. Embiid, however, hasn’t always been a willing workout participant, according to sources. He’s even blown off conditioning drills, one source added.

An altercation with Davis during the West Coast trip, coupled with Brown’s wanting him to be in “more of a structured, stable environment,” pushed the Sixers to send him home, the sources said.

Embiid is very young, and there’s still plenty of time for him to turn things around. Between not being able to play due to a foot injury and the passing of his brother earlier this year, that’s a lot for a 20-year old to deal with in his first season where he’s expected to act like a professional.

It’s far too early to condemn Embiid as a player or a person for what likely will amount to nothing more than growing pains. But on the flip side, this could be a bit of a cautionary tale for teams like the Sixers, who draft players that are coming off of major injuries in hopes that they’ll one day pan out.