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Joel Embiid Should’ve Been an All-Star

Sean Lynch, Columnist

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Sixers fans have waited over two seasons to witness the greatness of Joel Embiid and now that he’s on the court, he’s taking the NBA by storm.

An early “shoo-in” for the NBA Rookie of the Year, the 7’2′ center from Cameroon is producing rookie numbers comparable to names like Shaq, Duncan, Ewing, and Chamberlain.  However, the voting system for the All-Star game prevented the “Process” from making the Eastern Conference reserves.

Although Kevin Love, Paul George, and Paul Millsap are all reasonable selections for the frontcourt reserves, Joel Embiid deserved to be in the All-Star game and the All-Star game deserved Joel Embiid.

Here’s why:

Statistics 

Due to being sidelined for two seasons, Embiid has been placed on a minute restriction, which could most likely be the cause of his All-Star snub.  That being said, he’s averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and 2.1 assists in 25.4 minutes through his first 31 games.

On the defensive end, Embiid is statistically the best rim protector in the league with a 41% Defensive Field Goal rating, meaning he allows the fewest percentage of made shots of all frontcourt players in the NBA.

The big “what if?” when it comes to Embiid’s numbers is his potential without a minute’s restriction. Cue the per-36 stats:

If Embiid played 36 minutes a game (the typical amount a starter plays per game) he would average 28.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.  Of course that number would realistically be inflated due to stamina, especially for a player his size. Regardless, those averages would put him in a league of his own.

Impact on the Sixers.

Embiid has undoubtedly revitalized the Sixers organization, on and off the court. At 17-28 the Sixers are four games out of the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference.  When Embiid is on the floor, the Sixers have gone 13-8. Without Embiid, 4-10.  That 4-10 record can be attributed to the team’s defense without their center.

Through 45 games, Philadelphia has 11th best defensive rating in the NBA (104.5). When Embiid is on the floor, that number drops to a league-best 98.5. Without Embiid, the Sixers defensive rating rises to 107.5, one of the worst in the NBA.

The All-Star game is for the fans; it’s supposed to be fun.

While I don’t 100% agree with the concept of social media voting, it was evident that the fans wanted to see him represent the Eastern Conference.  What started as a ploy to get a potential date with Rihanna turned into a social media campaign that became the reason I checked Twitter an extra 50 times a day.

Garnering attention from celebrities to WWE superstars, and even creating a fake tweet from President Trump, Embiid single handedly brought national recognition back to the Sixers.  Who else can be playing in an away game at Boston and have the Celtics crowd chanting “Trust the Process”?

The league hasn’t seen a big man with the skill, energy, and comedic antics like this since Shaq and we all know how fun All-Star Weekend was when that man participated.

The NBA All-Star game isn’t played for home-court advantage in the Finals; the winning conference doesn’t get any real award other than a year’s worth of bragging rights.  It’s a spectacle for the fans, a showcase of the league’s best and (usually) the most popular players. Teams score 150 highlight-worthy points per game without playing defense until the last five minutes of the fourth quarter.  Not many, if any big men in the league can create as high energy plays than “The Process” can.

Embiid will still be making the trip to New Orleans where he will represent the World team against the U.S. in the Rising Stars Challenge. Though not as big of a stage we’d all like to see him on, it’s certainly a big enough stage to further prove why he should be playing with the big boys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joel Embiid Should’ve Been an All-Star