With the NBA All-Star break now officially underway for the Philadelphia 76ers, now seemed like the perfect time to discuss/analyze the two Sixers who will actually be participating in the festivities this upcoming weekend. Up first? The now 3x All-Star: Joel Embiid.
Despite spending a healthy amount of time out with injury in 2020 due to hand surgery, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Embiid was selected to his third consecutive All-Star game. Since debuting back in 2016, Embiid has established himself as one of the most dominant big men in the NBA.
The fourth-year center is currently averaging 22.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. He’s shooting 46.6% from the field on 15.9 attempts per game. While impressive numbers nonetheless, across the board these are all pretty much a step down in terms of production compared to last season.
A lot of frustrations surrounding Embiid’s performance in 2020 have stemmed from him setting the bar extremely high last season. His 28 and 14 averages in 2018/2019 had many people going as far as including him in the MVP race.
With that said, just because he’s not putting up the numbers he did last year doesn’t mean he’s not still playing to an extremely high level. Among all centers, Embiid is second in PPG, fifth in RPG, fifth in total double-doubles, and second in PER (player efficiency rating).
Embiid gets held to a higher standard than most for a few reasons. He’s incredibly outspoken for starters, but he also has such glaringly absurd potential than people in general just feel like he has so much more to give. All-time NBA great Shaquille O’Neal has frequently called out the Sixers’ center, hoping to get more out of him.
Despite some of the media’s perceptions surrounding Embiid, it’s clear the actual NBA recognizes him as a force. Named an All-Star starter each time he’s been selected to the event, Embiid was actually Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first overall pick during the All-Star draft this year.
Embiid was also the only true “center” to be selected as an All-Star starter this season. Fellow bigs like Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert were selected as reserves.
Expect the fun-loving center to be up to his usual antics during the All-Star game itself. Shooting deep threes, trying to dunk on everyone, and talking a whole lot of trash.
Take a chance this All-Star break to take a breath and relax. While this current Sixers season has been incredibly frustrating at times, the opportunity to see Embiid recognized as the best center in the NBA this weekend is a true treat.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports