Joel “The Process” Embiid was forced by the lower half of his body to take in the “first two years” of his NBA career with a permanent seat on the bench. His real rookie season began on October 26th, 2016 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The process has been a long one but they payout has been sweet; for Philly fans and for fans of basketball. The traditional big man won’t go extinct any time soon, and Embiid embodies that as well as a new age twist.
Since game 1 of the ’16-’17 season, Embiid has dazzled with how fluid he looks out on the court. He’s extremely nimble and graceful for a 7-footer, let alone a 7-footer with multiple foot injuries to plague the beginning of a young career.
So far Embiid has showed the total package, the ability to score with his back to the basket, turn over from either shoulder, drop steps, up-and-unders, hook shots, 15 foot jumpers, 3-pointers…etc. What more can you ask for out of your big man? Did I mention he’s leading the league in 3-point percentage?
Embiid is really starting to separate himself from the rest of the rookie class this year and you can tell the NBA wisdom he’s soaked in throughout the past two years has done a lot of good for his progression as a player since college.
Brandon Ingram is still trying to earn the trust of Luke Walton, as he is still coming off the bench and averaging about 19 minutes per game; a bit low for a #2 overall pick. His best game of the season only had him amass 12 points. He’ll be good for sure, but it probably won’t be widespread apparent until year 2 or 3 for Ingram.
Jaylen Brown has been pretty impressive, so far with a career high of 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Although Boston has a deep roster, Jaylen Brown ha clearly earned the trust of Brad Stevens and has cracked the rotation in a meaningful way.
Kris Dunn is in a pretty ideal situation with Ricky Rubio currently sidelined with injury, giving the rookie the opportunity to start and be groomed by Tom Thibodeau. In his first start of his career, Dunn notched 10 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, and 5 steals.
Buddy Hield is was a huge bright spot for the Pelicans this off-season in the draft, but he now finds himself on the 0-7 Pelicans who are desperate for some cohesion to their offense and defensive schemes. He is a viable candidate for ROY, but probably won’t get it because the Pelicans as a team are poor. His best game garnered 18 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds, 1 block, and 2 steals.
But with all the little razzle dazzles that these rookies have put up, they pale in comparison to the work Embiid has been doing in Philly.
Check out the nasty dream shake he put on Jeff Withey last night:
One of Embiid’s most impressive games of the season occurred three days ago against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It featured a plethora of previously mentioned fluid moves, but also a monster block on Mr. Block Party himself, LeBron James.
Barring any injury, you can hand Embiid the ROY trophy now. Unfortunately for Philly fans, the Sixers are still losing, but at least they can actually have fun during the losing witnessing a star in the making.
Embiid is averaging 17.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and almost 3 blocks.