Kyle Neubeck makes a good case that Joel Embiid should be considered for this award. He won’t get it — this year — but the dude is playing some amazing basketball, especially on the defensive end. Check out Kyle’s post for some fun video clips as well.
I agree with Kyle that it is more of a challenge to spot who is to blame when an NBA defense breaks down than to follow the action on offense. But Embiid’s impact on the Sixer defense is pretty obvious. The dude is just a beast providing weak side help, and scaring the living crap out of elite NBA wings driving to the hoop. They often just give up and back out (a stat that does not get recorded) or they alter their shot and miss (again not recorded). Embiid is also very good at flashing out at guards to disrupt the flow of pre-set plays. And Embiid’s ability to block shots is very special. His block of 7 footer Cody Zeller’s attempted stuff was a jaw dropper – and that is just one example. Finally – the guy is improving. He is just a rookie! And he is already anchoring the defensive unit – calling out to his teammates, and being in the right place at the right time. This goes a long way to explaining how the Sixers held the Atlantic division leading Raptors — a team that averages 110 points per game — to 89 points, despite coughing up 20 points on 22 turnovers.
Granted, I am biased, but it is SO much fun to watch him and the team play just now! You really have to check it out! This about sums it up
Embiid’s motions to pump up the crowd from the free-throw line and Saric’s running, jumping three-point celebration will never feel as pure, as full of sheer exuberance and freedom from the restraints of the world, as they do currently. The Sixers are playing with house money right now and can’t stop rolling sevens.
BTW, check out the above link for a video clip of Dario Saric’s amazing double block in a single play. You have to love the way he plays, and he too is just a rookie. Did I mention that number 1 draft pick Ben Simmons will soon make his debut?