Joel Embiid was on the court Monday, doing what 76ers coach Brett Brown called "basic stuff."
But just the sight of the 7-foot center sinking corner threes and midrange shots during a workout had to be a break from the reality of coaching a 1-28 team for the third-year coach.
"We love seeing him as much as we can," Brown said of Embiid, who's usually on a different workout schedule than his teammates. "This just happens to be one of these times were he can get rehab in and be a part of us. But it's good to see him."
By now, Sixers fans know the Embiid has yet to play after being selected third overall in the 2014 draft.
He had bone-graft surgery to repair the navicular bone in his right foot in August. He will miss the entire season. The former Kansas already has missed what would have been his rookie season after undergoing surgery in June 2014 to repair a stress fracture in the same bone. A setback in his recovery led to the second operation.
But he was on the Sixers' practice court at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Monday in a jovial mood and perhaps in his best shape as a pro.
Brown said that Embiid, who's off limits as far as interviews, is "mentally leaps and bounds" ahead of where he was last December. Back then, he wasn't committed to working out and was even sent home during a road trip after getting into an altercation with an assistant trainer.
"I just know what I see, just a committed, hopeful athlete," Brown said. "He sees that he's doing the right thing. He feels like he's doing the right thing. He is doing the right thing. So I just see somebody that's got the edge where he wants to get going again. I think mentally it's night and day from talking to him this time in December last year."
Jahlil Okafor and Isaiah Canaan took 20 children from the YMCA of Greater Brandywine on a holiday shopping spree Monday night at Dick's Sporting Goods in King of Prussia.
The Sixers host the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday in their final home game of 2015. The Grizzlies (15-14) have won the last six meetings in the series.