PHILADELPHIA -- "Trust The Process," Joel Embiid says after finishing up a 24-minute interview session at Sixers media day, eliciting some laughs from reporters in the room. Embiid has not played a game since March 1, 2014, but it appears that's about to change.
The 22-year-old center, who has been forced to sit out the first two seasons of his NBA career due to multiple foot surgeries, says he expects to play in Philadelphia's preseason opener against Boston on Oct. 4.
"I've been through a lot," Embiid said, citing his injuries, his team's on-court struggles and the death of his brother in Africa. "It's been really hard."
Embiid is in really good spirits now, however. He may be on a minutes restriction and unable to play in back-to-backs, but his self-confidence is evident.
"I haven't played in two years, but my game has gotten so much better," he said. "If you watch the game tape, I'm not the same guy. I'm going to make mistakes, but I'm going to be just fine."
Embiid, a 7-footer who says he weighs 275 pounds, was chosen by former GM Sam Hinkie -- the man whose process paid off in the form of high lottery picks Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Nerlens Noel -- with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2014 draft. He has the potential to be a game-changer on both offense and defense if he can stay healthy.
"From what it looks like right now, I'm going to have about a 20-year career," Embiid said, jokingly. "I think of myself as a complete player."
Embiid averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 28 games at Kansas before injuring his back and missing the NCAA tournament as a result. He struggled with his decision to leave college after just his freshman season, he said, and was seriously contemplating a return to school before mentor Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and other NBA players convinced him to change his mind and enter the draft.
Embiid didn't think he could handle living on his own at such a young age, but each year he has grown and matured through adversity. He has no regrets about leaving early, and while he loves watching his old college games, he can't stand watching college basketball anymore.
"I feel like they don't know how to play," Embiid said, citing a lack of spacing at the collegiate level.
Embiid is stronger, better, faster now, yearning to dominate in the post and expand his game out to the 3-point line. And yes, he has aspirations of learning how to play point guard, too, because of course he does.
During the rehab-setback-rehab-setback-rehab process, Embiid says he has learned to be patient.
Given that their team has lost 199 games the past three seasons, Sixers fans have, too. But equipped with an exciting young core of bigs, the future is brighter than ever.
Now it's up to new GM Bryan Colangelo to balance out the roster as the franchise looks to take the next step in its rebuilding efforts.
Even though he's yet to suit up, Embiid's fun-loving and affable personality has always been on full display. Just check out his social media accounts. After all, what other player has asked Kim Kardashian to slide into his DMs and arm-wrestled Justin Bieber?
It's all part of the package that is Joel Embiid.
The process is about to be put to the test yet again. The Sixers and their fans have no choice but to trust it.
When it comes to this kid, you want to, even if it's a risky proposition. Just listen to him talk.
"My coaches sometimes say I'm a little bit too competitive," Embiid said. "But I want to win, and I feel like we should win every game. That's all I care about -- especially in this city where they've been looking for a team to win. I'm glad the Eagles are doing well, so I think it's our turn."