Was Sixers’ Joel Embiid snubbed in NBA’s yearly GM Survey?

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Right around this time every year, the NBA conducts a survey of their 32 general managers. A total of 50 questions are asked, including polls like “Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals?” and “Who will win the 2019-2020 Kia MVP?”

Now as it goes with the national sports media, the Philadelphia market is repeatedly and almost exclusively slept on. Normally a simple poll like this would not bother myself or other NBA reporters, however, one poll result, in particular, has managed to really irk fans and analysts alike.

In the “Who is the best Center in the NBA?” section of the survey, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets received 48% of all votes. Yes you read that correctly, 48%. Nearly half of all the GMs in pro basketball believe Jokic is a better big than Philly’s own Joel Embiid (Embiid received just 28% of votes). In an attempt to remain somewhat impartial, I’d like to simply compare and contrast the two players’ stats of last season, and leave the decision up to you on who truly is the better center.

Offense

In 2018, Joel Embiid ranked fourth in the entire NBA in scoring, averaging 27.5 points per game. Nikola Jokic, on the other hand, averaged just 20.1, good for 32nd in the NBA. Jokic slightly edges out Embiid when it comes to shooting percentages, as Jokic shot 51.1% from the field, 30.7% from three, and 82% from the free-throw line (Embiid shot 48.4%, 30%, and 80%). However, when it comes to “true shooting percentage” Embiid actually ranks as the more efficient shooter. The only major offensive category that Jokic clearly dominated when compared to Jojo? Assists, as Jokic averaged 7.2 per game compared to Embiid’s 3.7 per game.

Defense

Unsurprisingly, Embiid ranked as one of the best shot-blockers in the league last year, clocking in at number 11 averaging 1.9 blocks per game. Jokic, however, was definitely NOT a good rim protector, as he ranked 73rd in the NBA in blocks per game, tied with guys like TJ Warren and Carmelo Anthony (yikes). Embiid also ranked second in rebounds last year, posting an average of 13.6 per game. Jokic ranked 13th in the NBA averaging 10.8 boards per game. The Denver big man did, in fact, average more steals however, 1.4 compared to Embiid’s 0.7.

I think it’s obvious at this point who I believe is the better player, and while it’s easy to pin me as a biased Sixer beat writer, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. In ESPN.com’s annual player grade formula, they gave Embiid a ranking of 49.6 which is good for 4th best in the NBA. Jokic received a score of 43.7, pinning him just outside the top ten at number 11. The Embiid-Jokic debate may be worth having one day, just not right now.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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