Former Kansas Jayhawks star Joel Embiid and Philadelphia 76ers begin quest for championship

Could this be Embiid and Philly's year?
Apr 12, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid
Apr 12, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

While several Kansas basketball alumni currently play in the NBA, no player can compare to former Jayhawk center Joel Embiid. The 7-foot Team USA Olympian posted a career-high 34.7 points in an injury-riddled 2023-24 season after winning his first MVP award the year before.

He suffered an injury to his lateral meniscus in February and missed two months of action, but he is active for the postseason. Even if Embiid is not 100%, he is expected to suit up today when Philly and the No. 7 seeded New York Knicks meet in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at 5:00 p.m. CT.

Joel Embiid looking to lead 76ers to first-ever NBA Finals run

Despite being one of the best basketball players in the world, the 76ers have not enjoyed much playoff success since he was drafted 10 years ago. In fact, Philadelphia has never advanced past the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs during his decade-long tenure. 

Sixer fans hope the outcome will be different this time around with first-year head coach Nick Nurse at the helm. Nurse was able to take the Toronto Raptors to an NBA Championship in his first campaign in the Great White North, so Embiid and Co. are confident they will have similar fortunes this season.

Playing alongside Embiid is star guard Tyrese Maxey, who is one of the best young players in the league. Veterans like Tobias Harris, Buddy Hield, and even fellow Jayhawk Kelly Oubre Jr. are the other top players for the 76ers. Embiid needs all of his teammates to contribute on both ends of the floor, especially because he is playing on a hobbled knee.

On the other end of the court, Philly will be tasked with guarding New York's superstar, Jalen Brunson. He led the Knicks to a 50-32 record in the regular season and a No. 2 seed. They are one of the best defensive teams in the league and should pose a significant challenge to Philadelphia.

While the 6ers are the lower-seeded team in this matchup, most consider it fairly even because the two teams only finished three games apart in the standings. If Embiid's squad can overcome New York, they will take on the winner of the Bucks versus Pacers series. The road to a championship begins today for the former KU standout.