Just one day after making an All-NBA Defensive Team, Joel Embiid added to his list of accomplishments this year by making the overall All-NBA Second team. This means he is considered to be one of the top 10 players in the NBA this year and he would undoubtedly have gotten the first-team spot if it was not for Nikola Jokic and the positional restrictions.
Embiid was nothing short of terrific this year. He averaged 28.5 points (4th in NBA), 10.6 rebounds (11th in NBA), 2.8 assists, 1.4 blocks (13th in NBA), and 1 steal per game. The Sixers star also ranked 2nd in the league in usage rate (35.3%), player efficiency rating (30.3), and win shares per 48 minutes (.266). The Sixers recorded a +13 point differential per 100 possession when Embiid was on the court, scoring 10.5 more points per 100 possessions, and also saw increases in field-goal percentage and free-throw rate compared to when he wasn’t playing.
The 7-foot Cameroonian played in 51 games this season and tallied 31 double-doubles including 16 games in which he scored 30 points and 10 rebounds. Embiid also finished 2nd in the league in MVP voting this season due to his impressive impact throughout the season. He also was just the 13th player in NBA history to tally at least 1450 points, 530 rebounds, and 145 assists in 51 games and the Sixers would not have been able to secure their first-place seeding without him.
This is Embiid’s third career all-NBA selection as he also got the second team nomination in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Embiid joins the list of Hall of Famers in Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Billy Cunningham, Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, and Dolph Schayes as the only 76ers to make at least three All-NBA teams.
NBA’s Flawed Voting System
While nothing should be taken away from the accomplishment, it does bring into question the process by which the NBA decides these awards. Despite finishing second in the league in MVP voting, Embiid failed to crack the All-NBA First-Team due to Nikola Jokic securing more first-team votes at the center position.
Voting occurs between a panel of 100 global sportswriters and broadcasters. Each voter selects two guards, two forwards, and one center for each team. Players who receive votes at multiple positions are put in the position in which they receive the most votes at. It is worth noting that, despite the lack of minutes, Embiid was also eligible as a forward.
The positional restrictions are the only reason that Embiid did not make the first team, as it is tough to debate that he was not one of the top five players in the league this season. The NBA has continually evolved into a position-less style of play and is far from the structured lineups that were seen during the league’s origin. The NBA should adjust its awards to reflect this and more accurately represent who the best players are on a yearly basis.
The other notable news that comes along with this award is that Joel Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract. This would be a four-year extension and will be valued at $191 million. Embiid is still in the third year of his five-year- $147 million extension he signed, so this extension would not kick in until the 2023-2024 season.
These awards hold major implications on the contracts of NBA players. Some of the most notable players left off the list are Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, and Kevin Durant. Tatum and Mitchell would have been eligible for a $33 million bonus if they had made an All-NBA Team, but their rookie max extensions will remain at 25% of the salary cap for the 2021-22 season.
These types of awards are a great show of recognition for the development that Joel Embiid has undergone and proof of the superstar status that he has achieved. The Process himself has grown into as great of a player as the Sixers could have hoped, and helped elevate the franchise to heights they have not seen since the 2001 season. Injury concerns do not make the decision regarding the extension as simple as it could be, but
for the moment the Sixers should celebrate this impressive accomplishment.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire