CAMDEN, N.J. -- The bigs are getting closer to their returns.
On Friday, Joel Embiid participated in half-court 5-on-5 during the final day of training camp. He had not done 5-on-5 activity since undergoing left knee surgery in March.
“To see him with us, sweating and playing against people, and them playing against him was a good day,” Brett Brown said.
The Sixers have not set a specific date for Embiid’s return. He is targeting opening night, Oct. 18 against the Wizards in Washington, D.C. Embiid has not played in a game since Jan. 27.
Embiid worked out and rehabbed at the Sixers' training complex over the summer. He has been part of practices, but this was the first time he was on the court in this type of game-like setting.
“It’s a whole different thing for his teammates,” Brown said. “You have another incredible weapon and target that you have to get the ball to or recognize that he is behind you defensively.”
Jahlil Okafor, who had been sidelined by right knee soreness, participated in a complete practice for the first time in camp. He has battled right knee issues since his rookie year and last played on March 22.
“I just feel good on the court,” Okafor said. “Everything’s pretty comfortable. I have no soreness in my knee. Mentally, I’m not even thinking about it. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Okafor is experiencing the benefits of his drastic weight loss. He adopted a vegan diet and dropped to 258 pounds, 20 less than at the start of last training camp. While Okafor admitted he got winded at points because of the long layoff from 5-on-5 action, Brown observed Okafor is moving at a more “efficient rate.”
“He looks like a stick,” Richaun Holmes said. “He’s moving better, more athletic. You can see the determination in his face to have a successful season.”
Okafor said he plans to play in Sunday’s open practice at The Palestra.
“It’s going to be scary when they’re back to full health and playing,” Ben Simmons said of the centers.
As for Simmons, he was happy to complete training camp a year removed from suffering a season-ending foot injury on the final day. He has not been under any restrictions.
"They wanted to go for two more minutes because it was a tied game," he said. "I was like, 'Nope.' Let's just get through it."
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (right knee patellar tendonitis) practiced but did not go through 5-on-5.