No matter how you try to find a comparison, there’s really no one like him. A seven-footer who can bang down low, has the graceful touch and footwork of a dancer, and can step out and shoot from deep. An all NBA defender who doesn’t just block shots, he alters them, making players change their trajectory mid-attempt.
And he’s one of the great Twitter trolls too.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Joel Embiid: All-Star, All-NBA, jokester, and very possibly, your NBA MVP.
Looking at the early odds, Embiid is in the middle of those who get odds and aren’t classified as “the field.” As the season opens, he’s a +1600, sitting behind the usual suspects of LeBron, Harden, AD, and Kawhi, but ahead of Paul George and Russell Westbrook.
In looking at Embiid, there are two primary factors that will determine if he is legitimately an MVP or just the best player on a team with serious title hopes.
First and foremost is his health. When you’re 7’2”, you will always have back and foot problems. It’s just a part of life. The best thing that can be done is to make sure you take care of yourself as best as you can and monitor your health with the aid of team personnel. This offseason, the big man appears to have taken his health and nutrition to heart, coming in more cut and trading a little pudge for muscle. He’s banking that taking care of himself, he can stay on the floor and be effective for longer periods of time.
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The second is his supporting cast. One of the great things about Embiid is his ability to shoot from the outside. But no center should be taking 4.1 three-pointers a game. For someone of his ability, maybe you can do that once in a while when you have a hot hand, but it should be used to keep the defense honest. The reason Embiid had to shoot so many treys is that no one else on the Sixers could, outside of J. J. Redick. Now there’s Tobias Harris for a full season. Al Horford is in the mix. Even Ben Simmons hit a triple in a preseason game. As cool as it is to see someone who can touch the rim without leaving the ground shoot a ball from 25 feet out, the fact is, Embiid shot 30.3 percent from deep. The best reason he needed to shoot at distance was to create his own floor spacing, unclogging the lane.
There is a third factor in the mix. As we referenced earlier, a commitment to health is worked best in conjunction with a team’s medical and training staff. The mode with the Sixers in handling Embiid is to rest him as a precaution whenever possible, unless it’s in the postseason. When comparing similar numbers and results between players like Giannis and LeBron who are playing 80-82 games and Embiid, who has never played more than 64 in a season, the odds fall off from his favor.