Joel Embiid waited over two years to prove his worth as a center in the NBA. Now, he has his chance to shine with the Philadelphia 76ers and he is doing more than living up to the hype.
In seven games played so far in 2016, the 22-year-old rookie from Yaounde, Cameroon is leading all rookies in scoring (18.0), rebounding (7.3) and blocks (2.29) per game, according to Inside Hoops. Additionally, Embiid is displaying a soft touch for a 7-foot, 250-pound big man. Embiid is second among rookies in field-goal percentage (46.5%) and 3-point percentage (50%) and is shooting around 80 percent (79.6%) from the free-throw line.
Success was not always so tangible for Embiid.
Embiid was marred by injuries in the years prior to his long awaited rookie season. In 2014 — the same year he was drafted No.3 overall by the Sixers — Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his foot, which sidelined him the entire season. Then, Embiid rebroke the same foot in 2015, causing him to sit out all of 2015-16.
Leading up to the 2016-17 season, the only pieces of visible proof that Embiid was NBA-ready were his highlights from the University of Kansas and his highly popularized rehab training videos. But that would all change.
Embiid had 20 points and seven rebounds in his NBA regular-season debut. He notched his first double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Sixers’ third game of the season. Lastly, Embiid willed the Sixers to their first win of the season with a career-high 25 points in an overtime victory against the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 11.
At 1-9, the Sixers are coming off of two grueling road losses, losing to the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets by a combined 48 points. Also, the Sixers are going through a period of uncertainty when it comes to the logjam in the frontcourt. They have been alternating between Embiid and Jahlil Okafor at center this year. The logjam will only get worse once Nerlens Noel and recent No.1 overall pick Ben Simmons heal from their injuries.
But one thing is for certain — Embiid, who has adopted the nickname “The Process”, is progressing really, and I mean really, well. Well enough to trigger comparisons to one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Looks like The Process is more like “The Dream” these days.
Information from ESPN, SB Nation and Basketball Reference were used in this report.
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