Almost every year we compare a player of this generation to a great from generations past. Who is the next Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson? But big men have been so great lately that we rarely see one worth comparing to.
Until we saw Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.
With Embiid, he was leaning more towards Greg Oden than Alonzo Morning with all setbacks and injuries. But when he finally took the court, eyebrows raised and comparisons began.
Watching Embiid play takes me back to Patrick Ewing and his New York Knicks days. Ewing was a great two-way player. He gave his all on the offensive end and another 100% on the defensive side. For his career, he averaged 21 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks. Ewing was the heart and soul of a Knicks team that disappointed many but if it were not for the courageous play of Ewing, would the Knicks have any relevancy today?
Ewing had to be great every night, the Knicks needed him to be and now Embiid is doing the same for the 76ers. It took years for the rest of the roster to catch up with the output Ewing was giving. The 76ers are facing a similar path with Embiid. What’s amazing is that this is just his rookie year and he has already taken the city and league by storm. His personality has won over fans outside of Philly with his #AllStar vote campaign and his selection will solidify him as one of the best in the NBA.
Embiid is averaging 20 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks in only 25 minutes per. If the team didn’t have him on a minutes restriction and Embiid was left to play the average 36 minutes, his stats will equal to 28 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Those are Ewing’s numbers. The NBA is a league of small-ball as there are very few true Centers left in the league. DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, and Andre Drummond are just a few but neither of them has the all-around skills that Embiid has.
What makes Embiid that much scary is the unknown. The 76ers are still a team in search of an identity and players to fit around their new face. Once Ben Simmons returns and the team makes a decision on either a trade for Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor then we will get to see the full potential of this young stud. This is the same obstacle Ewing had to face with the Knicks. Once they found an identity and the pieces began to fit, the Knicks were annual playoff participants.
And Ewing became a Hall of fame player in the process.