The fans of the Philadelphia 76ers have had to wait two long years to see what the organization had in Joel Embiid, it is safe to say that he is worth the wait. Embiid has burst onto the scene with a bang dispute having a minutes restriction. He has shown why he is considered a five-star talent with his ability to shoot from deep, post up, and defend. If Embiid continues to play this way as the Sixers ease him into his first NBA season he will be a lock for rookie of the year.
After playing in four games the seven-foot center is already leading rookies in scoring at 18 points a game, rebounding 6.3 times a game, and blocks three shots a night which is good enough for second in the whole NBA all while averaging just 20 minutes a game. Embiid moves like a young Hakeem Olajuwon and shoots like Dirk Nowitzki. He is a strong defender on the block and has great timing on blocking shots.
In the post Embiid has all the tools necessary to be a dominant player for years to come. He is capable of facing up defenders and hitting a jumper, bullying others as he makes his way to the rim. On the last play of the clips, he uses a brilliant ball fake to get Tristian Thompson out of position before hitting a jump hook.
Embiid’s range extends beyond the post making him a great target for Pick-and-Pop situations all the way out to three. In the last clip Dwight Howard dares him to take the three and Embiid does not hesitate as he is shooting 66.7% from that range while attempting over two threes a game.
He also has shown off his agility against the Atlanta Hawks as he drives from the wing and surprised Kris Humphries with a Euro-step, which is a move most seven-footers are not capable of pulling off. He got fouled on the play but it is a clear sign he’s nimble enough to make the move.
On the defensive side of the ball he possesses great timing when it comes to blocking shots. He will be able to serve as a defensive eraser for his teammates mistakes. As Russell Westbrook came off a screen on his way to the rim, Embiid left his man the screener to swat away Westbrook’s attempt. He also had 2 blocks on LeBron James in his recent game against the Cleveland Cavaliers including a chase down block James style (it was clearly goaltending but was the call was missed).
Embiid is showing he’s the total package, he can shoot, rebound, and defend. He is the clear favorite to win rookie of the year despite his minutes restrictions and if he can stay healthy. His per 36 numbers are off the chart and would have him averaging a double-double with 30.3 points and 10.2 boards. Those are just estimates but something many rookies let alone several veterans rarely reach. Embiid’s play so far even caught Patrick Ewing’s attention when he made the comment he “might be the most talented center in the game.” Even though Ben Simmons’ injury is a setback for the Sixers, Embiid’s play has given them plenty to be excited about. They have found a cornerstone piece to build on for many years.
- Klay Thompson Slumping – The Warriors are struggling and it’s not an accident that this coincides with Thompson starting the season off very slowly. He’s shooting 19.6% from three this season and has made only 9 threes over their first six games. The Warriors are taking a lot longer than people (myself included) to find their groove. That said it’s still early and once he breaks out of his slump looking for the team to start finding their rhythm again.
- Thunder’s record Fool’s Gold – The Thunder have started the season 5-1 and have been feasting on weak teams leading some to prop them up as a great team. They only have one win against a likely playoff bound team. Look for that trend to continue, as their schedule is pretty favorable to start the season. Be warned this is fool’s gold because after Russell Westbrook they are very thin.
- Cavs alone at the top – The Cavs are the lone undefeated team in the NBA at 6-0 and have blown away any thoughts that they may show signs of a championship hangover. At the same time, JR Smith still doesn’t have a shirt on.