The question is bigger than his 7-foot-2 frame.
How long will Joel Embiid be out?
Embiid, who was diagnosed Thursday with a concussion and will undergo surgery for an orbital fracture of his left eye, is sidelined just as the Sixers are striving for home-court advantage in the postseason (see story).
It's a precarious situation because of the timing and the unknown. The playoffs open April 14, while the second round starts as early as April 28. Per a report by ESPN's Zach Lowe, Embiid could miss two to four weeks following the date of his surgery, which has yet to be announced.
Two weeks would have Embiid shooting for the first round. Four weeks is another ballgame.
What complicates the return is the orbital fracture coupled with the concussion, according to Dr. Mark Schwartz of Virtua Health.
"A timeframe of two weeks is I think very optimistic," Schwartz, who is not treating Embiid, said during Thursday night's edition of Philly Sports Talk. "It can be as long as four weeks depending on the concussion, swelling around the eye, any potential vision problems and the fact that he's really not going to be able to be aggressively practicing even in a non-contact way because of the concussion protocol."
While the league has seen varying recovery rates for orbital fractures (see story), Embiid's path back becomes murkier because of the concussion.
"NBA players have been known to get back on the court as early as two weeks after such surgery," Schwartz said, "but now with the concussion, that may delay his time to get back to practicing, you don't know whether he's having any vision problems with this."
And it looks like clearing concussion protocol won't be Embiid's only obstacle.
"Plus, he's going to have to get used to wearing this protective mask," Schwartz said. "It doesn't take much more than another elbow to that area to ruin good work."
With all the questions hovering over the Sixers' biggest star, there's no doubt the team's work just got much tougher.